Five A-live with Third Attempt (Band)

Third Attempt introduces the band and picks the five performances and artists that has inspired this new evolution in the project.

Third Attempt is evolving again. As a solo artist Torje Fagertun Spilde’s Third Attempt project has already amassed a large discography, and today he’s no less than a consummate performer. He’s released albums that have enamoured and have transformed those tracks into live performances that move across dance floors with toe-tapping grooves.

Third Attempt is no stranger to Jaeger’s stage, nor is he unfamiliar with playing with others like Bugge Wesseltoft.  Now he’s ready for the next phase of Third Attempt, as he debuts the Third Attempt band at Jaeger this Friday. Leading up to the showcase, we caught up Third Attempt’s Torje  to find out a bit more about this next evolution and some of the live acts that have inspired his own live performances. 

What was the inspiration or idea behind putting the band together for this event?

Since the move from Tromsø to Oslo I’ve been on the lookout for somebody to play with on the regular. I’ve wanted to set up something like this for quite some time. Many of my tracks are either heavily sampled or recorded with real instruments. So it always made sense to engage in something more band oriented, besides the clubby stuff. Also after a great live round with Bugge Wesseltoft and Kristoffer Eikrem in 23, I found myself more and more inspired by the format. 

My childhood friend Jonas (drummer) reached out to me around a year ago, having moved back pretty recently from the east. He was eager to play and I accepted. I really have to give him most of the credit for shifting this concept into gear. We’ve seen each other progress since we were kids, so it made perfect sense. Didn’t take us long to get into it. 

After a few successful sessions, Jonas got Elias on board (Guitarist). Which completed the trio.

I usually am a bit uptight when it comes to performing. But these guys have really loosened me up a lot. It’s always a real good time when we jam together. I’m happy to say I’m really look forward to playing this friday!

Give us a short introduction to the other two members of the band.

Jonas and Elias met at UIA (Kristiansand) studying together. They both have a degree in music, and studied under big names like Jan bang, Øyvind Nypan (Jazz-legend) and Karl-Oluf Wennerberg (A-ha), to name a few. Recently graduating with impressive track records. Both are working as professional session- and live-musicians, Jonas has among many things worked with both local and national pop-artists. Elias is currently also active in his Norwegian metal-band called Våde. 

What will be the fundamental difference between this performance and a solo third attempt performance besides the obvious fact that there are more people on stage. 

This group is first and foremost exploring Third Attempt tracks in a brand new, organic setting. With more open arrangements and room for improvisation. Live elements make the tracks come alive in completely different ways. I guess you could say it’s a less clubby angle, more concert / show oriented. Still maintaining the recipe though. Spiking the energy with live drums and guitar, with a special nod towards funk, soul and disco. Visuals included! 

Event flyer

We asked Torje to pick Five  live acts and their concerts that have inspired this project. 

OMA Hip Hop Instrumentals (Live in Tokyo)

Torje says: Impossible not to link the entire performance. World class performance in familiar and unfamiliar hip hop instrumentals. Sounding great in a band setting which is rare in this genre. 

The hip-hop instrumentalists, OMA has been a social media phenomenon for their unique interpretations of Hip Hop classics. From the Golden Era to the post 2000’s pop hits,  OMA strip the tracks down to their instrumental components, where the samples return to their original state through the musicians. They put their own spin on it, but there is also something to the tracks they choose to interpret. All the MF Doom 

 

Glass Beams – Mahal EP

Torje says: Ninja Tune’s latest addition. Mystical, funky and hypnotizing funkyness. Really like the outfits and overall aesthetic as well.

One of Guardian’s “One’s to watch” this year, Glass Beams is Australia’s latest hyped export. Western sounds playing with eastern dialects, Glass Beams relay something exotic and mysterious in their musical approach and it’s only affirmed by their own mysterious visual aesthetic. Appearing behind face shrouds and playing instruments that look like they were born from Ursula K. Le Guin novel, the oblique band is an exciting curiosity.

 

D’angelo – Chicken Grease @ The Chris Rock Show

Torje says: Extremely funky. Good times overall. Probably in the top TV performances

The living enigma D’Angelo during his peak Voodoo period, before descending into obscurity and becoming a recloose essentially. Always shrouded in mystique, the reluctant sex symbol showcases his incredible performing talents for this rare archival footage from the Chris Rock show.

 

Little Indian – Live

Torje says: Nils is a visionary and a big inspiration. I have seen him live multiple times. In my opinion, this live version surpasses the original. 

Serene Jazz, punctuated by some trip hop rhythms and disembodied vocal samples. Nils Petter Molvaer combines that Norwegian tradition of advanced Jazz sonics with contemporary electronics in bringing something unique to the world. It’s a longstanding tradition personified in its latest phase by an artist like Third Attempt. 

 

Daft Punk – Around the World / Harder Better Faster Stronger

Torje says: Grew up on this duo. Alive 2007 in general is a great record. I think this is a creative mashup of all their hits. Huge energy. If I had to pick one it would be this. 

Probably still one of the best electronic live acts, Daft Punk were one of the first a dance music artists to take their music to arena- and festival stages. The robot-men know their way around a sequencer and synthesiser in a way that seems they are plugged into them, and during the Alive period they had found a way to manipulate them in a series of live shows and an album that brought a new dimension to their tracks. Here they consolidate two of their best known songs for an energetic peak time delivery. 

 

Talking Toy Tonics with Kapote

We discuss the creation and rise of Toy Tonics and the scene from which it was born with its creator Kapote ahead of the Toy Tonics take over at Jaeger

One of the most recognisable labels, both visually and socially, Toy Tonics has been a staple of record shops and DJ bags since that first Hard Ton record back in 2012. Born out of the Gomma label, Toy Tonics took the sprawling sonic universe of that label and focussed it towards the dance floor. 

It soon surpassed the expectations of founder and contributor Mathias Modica (aka Munk aka Kapote) who would channel all his efforts into the subsidiary, and eventually close down the parent label.  

Today Toy Tonics is known for its sonic identity as a dance floor label that impresses a musicality that goes beyond the repetitive loops of club music. A healthy stable of artists including COEO, Black Loops, Cody Currie, Sam Ruffillio and on occasion Kapote, relay a dance music born from the most physical exertions and cultivated in the metric language of machines. 

Between its base in Berlin and its origins in Munich, Toy Tonics undercuts the prevalence of Techno in the region with a unique approach to House music. Through their artists and extended family they’ve made a serious impression on an international audience over the course of their existence. 

Today, a Toy Tonics record is one of those records you simply take to the listening station. There’s an instant recognition there and a satisfied expectation that appeals to many. 

It’s an extension of the tastes and impulses of the man behind the label Mathias Modica and a very personal and individualistic sonic portrait of the modern dance floor. With a Toy Tonics takeover at Jaeger on the calendar, we caught up with the man behind the label and club night to talk about the meteoric rise of the label; its sonic identity; and the regional curiosities of running a House label in a Techno city.  

Recently, Techno has been awarded unesco heritage status in Berlin. As an artist and label operator, erring on the side of House (for the sake of simplifying), while working from a scene with closer connections to Berlin, what are your thoughts on this?

It’s quite funny;  isn’t it? They should ALSO have given this to Detroit, Chicago and Düsseldorf; the cities where techno as far as I understand it, was born. 

Düsseldorf because all techno basically is rooted in that mechanic, four to the floor, robot aesthetic that KRAFTWERK invented in the mid 70’s.

Chicago because there they turned the electronic dance music that the Italians created in the early 80’s into that aesthetic that was the basis for early house music and that later became the foundation of what the guys in Detroit turned into that was known as techno.

Berlin people in the early 90’s adapted that and made it bigger and created labels and clubs ( as well as Frankfurt and Munich people).

But culture is fluent anyway, and so it’s hard to say where a certain style comes from or who should get the applause or prizes… Techno and early house would not exist without the Japanese machines and synths,. so Tokyo probably could also receive UNESCO awards.. :)

What have been some of the difficulties and/or advantages in releasing House music in a region that is dominated by the harder styles of electronic music? 

I am Italian and was raised in Munich. As you might know the basis of house music is (Italian) disco.. . and also Munich was one of the 3 disco capitals in the late 70ies. Moroder, Donna Summer, Silver convention, Freddie Mercury have been living in Munich and created what was known as “the disco sound of Munich“. Munich was the capital of discotheques with more clubs than any other city in the late 70ies they say (in europe). So Disco and House music (that comes from disco) is in my blood and part of my culture. As techno comes from house music, it’s not far away.

Then the fact that Berlin is full of techno and trance clubs but not so many house people made it easy to grow here. It’s a fact that if everybody does the same thing, it’s not easy “to be special“ :) 

So when we started to make our Toy Tonics parties in Berlin 5 years ago, it went very fast from an audience of 300 people to 800 or 1000 people. And now we have a huge audience. We are in all the relevant clubs with our parties and that diverse, organic dance music we stand for. We are regulars at Panorama Bar and we do a lot of events in former techno clubs like OXI, Griesmühle or Funkhouse.

When we spoke to COEO, they also mentioned that the “Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer/Musicland Studios history” in Munich might have something to do with the richness in music from the region. What are your thoughts on this, and do you think it helps with the fact that a label like Toy Tonics got such a foothold there?

Yes as I said above: when u grow up in Munich as a DJ and dance music lover you grow up with a lot of older people who have crazy record collections or have been partying with people from the Moroder clique or run record stores of former DJs that used to play record in these legendary places. Or you have DJ teachers that tell you about the disco times or explain how to play records in a real “disco way.“ I mean; Munich and New York club culture was in many years quite a parallel affair. So a lot of my DJ teachers used to go to Mancuso’s Loft or hear Larry Levan playing and they handed down these points of views on the way to “read a dance floor“ or “create a vibe.“ 

Would Toy Tonics have had the same success if it originated from Berlin for instance?

Toy Tonics was basically launched from Berlin because most of us live there, including me, who’s lived there for the last 10 years. I have been DJing in Berlin since I was 22 years old.

Berlin wasn’t always a techno town. In the years between 2002 and 2012 the key clubs were places like RIO, SCALA and others. Indie dance and a combination of Rock, Hip Hop, Disco and other styles was the cool thing. Everything was very colourful, including the clothes. 

The new wave of techno and trance started in 2012. It’s a revival, basically techno is a retro music from the 1990’s and it had  a big comeback after 2012. Now techno and trance is a mainstream pop phenomena with commercial festivals and DJ stars who get 200.000 euros.

House and indie dance are still small compared to that but soon this will change :) Like in the early 2000s, when techno and rave culture went underground again. And instead indie dance and house became bigger. In 1998 everybody wanted to be a raver, and the love parade attracted 1 million people. In 2003 there was no love parade anymore and nobody wanted to be a raver. Instead DFA records, London Nu Rave, Daft Punk and the French touch were the cool thing. Times are changing right now again.

Toy Tonics is very much an institution in Munich and the label is very much linked to the area, with mainly artists from that region signed to the label. What was the landscape like in the beginning for the label, and how has it developed since?

Actually it’s not like that, the only Munich artists we have are COEO. Munich has changed a lot in the last few years and it’s a technological city now. Apple and Google have their European headquarters there. That’s why I left the city 15 years ago and now live in France and Berlin. The Toy Tonics artists come from London, Italy, France, USA and Brasil,  Amsterdam, But most live in Berlin with me.

Your own history in music is about as diverse as the city itself, between your aliases Munk and Kapote, the labels Gomma and then Toy Tonics. What was your introduction into the world of electronic music and what informed your own eclecticism?

I come from a family of musicians. My parents brought me to classical concerts and jazz at an early age. I studied jazz piano but I was also singing in hardcore bands. I tried to be a rapper and produced electronic ambient stuff at an early age, so this eclectic approach has always been there. 

As I explained before, being in Munich and being Italian means you have dance culture in my blood. So in a certain moment it made sense to connect my love for good music of any type with the DJ culture and try to create my own thing.

With Gomma you really stretched the purview of electronic music, and the connection with the dance floor would be tenuous compared to Toy Tonics. What consolidated for you in terms of musical ideas by the time you created Toy Tonics and established the alias Kapote? 

 Around 2014 when we started Toy Tonics we realised that there will be a massive new wave of dance music based on the 4 to the floor aesthetic. As Gomma was an extreme, wild style label where we did everything from avantgard industrial hip hop (The Rammellzee) to freak folk (with the Franz Ferdinand side projects) and proto house (headman) or electronic experiments. With Toy Tonics we wanted to create a label that basically does only dance music. It’s based on high quality house- and disco culture, based on the funk of afro American and Italian dance music culture.

It’s not often you see a sub-label become the dominant label, but that’s a little bit of what happened with Toy Tonics and its parent label Gomma, I feel. What caused you to shift your main focus to Toy Tonics over the course of its existence, and how has it been informed by what was happening around you?

Everything has its time, and I always look to the future. I don’t like nostalgia or being retro. So I thought it’s fresher to close Gomma in 2015 and concentrate on new things, Toy Tonics (with a new crew of artists and partners) and Kryptox. Our sublabel for bands from Berlin.

What are the origins behind the name Toy Tonics?

It’s a fun way to write TEUTONIC, which is an old way of saying, “ the people who lived in the region where Germany is now”. 

Tell us a bit about that visual aesthetic that is so instantly familiar; where did it come from and what is the idea behind the unwavering nature of that visual aesthetic?

I am surrounded by artists and graphic designers. Many of my friends are artists, older ones with big careers and lots of success as younger ones who studied at art academies or were part of the Berlin underground scene. As I love art (and alternative design ), I  always thought I wanted to include this into the label. We also do fanzines, poster and t-shirt designs that we sell on our webpage and exhibitions. 

It’s fun to create a whole musical and visual universe that stands out. We did this already with Gomma records between 2002 and 2015 and now we do it again with a new team.

At Toy Tonics there is still this insistence on musicality in terms of artists playing instruments, but it’s always in perfect harmony with the insistence on the groove for dancing. What was the thinking behind this and what do you think it brings to any kind of sonic identity for the label?

 I think the best DJs and most interesting electronic producers are the ones who also play real instruments or have been playing in bands and concerts. You simply have a different knowledge about music when you learn piano or guitar when it comes to writing a track or song. You work with chords… and chords create emotions and vibes or if you are a drummer you make totally different beat patterns with drum machines.

So most of the DJ producers I look for on Toy Tonics have this kind of background and I am sure that makes a big difference. People who dance to our music or our DJ sets maybe don’t know about this background but they FEEL it.

Is it a conscious decision on your part to find artists that fit that sound or are you lucky enough to just be surrounded by these artists?

It’s a natural flow. I meet people or I’m introduced to people and then we hang out, we DJ together or talk about music and then things happen. 

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where an artist you really want on the label has submitted music and it doesn’t fit the sound or is perhaps not just not quite there and what do you do in a situation like that?

All kinds of things happen. Some people seem to fit and then others don’t or are not obviously perfect for us, but later we realised that we are a perfect match :)

As an artist that releases his own music on the label, how do you approach music you want to put out for the label?

I don’t release much music. I’ve probably made 1000 tracks in the last 20 years that have  never been released. I prefer helping other, younger people to make good music and in many of the Toy Tonics releases of other artists I have been helping or co-producing. Maybe this will  change, and I will release a lot of kapote music in 2024 :)

Is there some kind of critical consideration as a label owner that goes beyond what you do with other artists releasing on the label?

I am never happy with my own music, so I don’t do much. I prefer playing the piano alone at home. 

Toy Tonics is very much a label born from the nightclub dance floor. I believe there have been some situations where the introductions to new artists for the label have been made on the dance floor. How does what you hear out on the dance floor and your relationships with the nightclub inform what Toy Tonics is?  

If you go into pop music history you see that EVERY pop music started as a DANCE music. Dancing is the most natural thing to humans besides talking and making love :) So it’s super natural to make a music label that creates mainly dance music. Because GOOD dance music can also be music to listen to and the nightclub aka the dance floor is the place where general trends in music can be born. From the waltzes and Mozart’s minuets to Rock n Roll, Hip Hop or Garage Rock, that was all music made to dance to before it became “popular radio music“.

I imagine the Toy Tonics club nights are an extension of that. Besides bringing over artists from the label, what do you hope these nights try to convey to other audiences in other regions?

People should meet each other, talk and dance together, make friends and then fall in love, kiss and make babies. That’s all I want. 

Very Delicious with Demi Riquísimo

Semi Delicious and Lifetime on the Hips boss Demi Riquisímo talks about establishing his labels and more ahead of his visit for Bypåskefestivalen.

Demi Riquísimo and his label Semi Delicious thundered on to the scene back in 2019, and has since cultured a discernible sound that has garnered a lot of attention and praise in the club land. Its origins as an exclusive vehicle for Demi Riquísimo has blossomed into a cabal of familiar- and new artists perpetuating the sound of the label and has even spawned another label in the form of A Lifetime On The Hips. 

Built on the DIY ideologies of the roots of club music the sound of the label reflects that with dusty synthesisers and jittery drum machines touching on everything from acid to Techno and even early Trance prototypes. It’s a reflection perhaps of Demi Riquísimo’s own origin story as a Detroit born, London-raised record collector, but goes beyond that with a no-nonsense “if-it-ain’t-broke” attitude.

At its most functional the music is reserved for A Lifetime On The Hips with both labels adopting the vinyl format in their designs. While Semi Delicious is the flagship label, its sister is “all killer no filler” strictly focussed on the dance floor. It’s receiving the same kind of recognition as its parent label since its inception last year and with Demi Riquísimo at the helm perpetuating its ethos and sound, Semi Delicious, its sub-label and artists are gathering a lot of momentum. 

Demi Riquísimo (not his real name) is something of an enigma. We know there was some kind of DJ and production career before the moniker, but it’s clouded in the past and the way in which he’s established the new alias and labels, suggests an experienced history in this field. We are lucky that he’s obliged to answer a few questions for us ahead of his visit this week to Jaeger, so we could unearth a little more of the man behind the label and the ideologies. 

I understand from other interviews that DJing came first for you. What was it about the craft that drew you to it?

Yes DJing definitely came first for me. I was very intrigued by vinyl and a friend had some belt driven decks that I enjoyed having a go in my teens. When I moved to Bristol for university I soon got glandular fever which meant I wasn’t going out but I managed to save some money to buy some decks and a batch of wax. I practised non-stop. About 6 months later I did my first club gig. 

What kind of inspiration and/or instruction did you get from what was happening around you in Bristol?

When I was there it was very bass heavy and I was very much into jungle and drum n bass. This translated into my DJing and record shopping. I also started running nights with this sound pallet but as the years went on I started to incorporate other sounds and genres into the events and later on in my production. 

Your label Semi Delicious started concurrently as a vehicle for your own releases. How did it (and does it) relate to what you are doing as a DJ; do you see the label and your music as an extension of your sound in the booth?

I feel running the label is all about control about what you want to release and when you want to release it. I like to release music in the moment that I’ve personally finished recently or signed recently from other artists. I think this way I’m able to translate playing current releases in my sets. So many cases with other labels I would get music signed that came out 2 years later and by the time it got released I’d never play it at all. 

I know you studied production, but what was your relationship to making music before your studies?

Most of my friends I lived with in Bristol were quite big gamers which never really appealed to me. I lost my creative output after leaving school as I used to do a lot of art work to pay my time. So I downloaded a demo version of Reason 4 music production and really enjoyed it so I bought a copy and just got really stuck in. I think at this point my shift from DJing to producing became apparent in my spare time. 

I’ve read you started Semi Delicious out of a necessity since nobody in your extended music circle wanted to put your tracks out. What was it in those first original releases that made you want to put these out into the world?

I just really believed in the music I was producing. A few artists said it wasn’t for them when sent to them in the demo format. But the same DJs were giving the tracks five star reviews and requesting the vinyl when it was delivered to them in promo form. It’s funny how we judge our feedback on the way music is sent to us. 

What do you usually aim to achieve with your music before you set out on a track and where do you draw influences from outside of music? 

I normally start with some kind of sample idea and build around that. Or I turn on all the gear and have a jam. Sometimes going in with an idea is helpful but for me not all the time. Just triggering some weird sounds is enough for me sometimes. 

As Semi Delicious expanded to include more of your music and other artists, what were you trying to establish with the label in terms of a sound or a collective ideology?

For me the label is just about releasing good dance music and records that will still sound good in ten years. That goes for my music and others. The second ethos is creating a community of artists and friends where we can all grow up and rise together.

How would you describe that sound today and has it evolved since the initial releases?

I believe the sound is alway evolving and it would be too hard to describe the sound. If  you listen to the releases over the years and from the different artists so much of the music is very different and has its own identity. So yes for sure the sound has evolved since the initial release and will continue too.  

Last year you set up A lifetime on the Hips as a sub-label which in your words is “strictly all killer, no filler.” Why wouldn’t these tracks fit the Semi Delicious profile?

They would fit for Semi Delicious. The difference between the two labels is semi delicious is more eclectic so some of these big killer tracks would be accompanied by other types of music. 

What’s it like operating, not just one, but two vinyl labels today; What are some of the challenges you face and why this continued commitment to the vinyl format?

It is tricky and the costs always go up not down. But I feel as long as the demand is still there and the music is still strong and getting good feedback I’ll always be passionate to release on the format that is so close to my heart and reminds me of first becoming a dj. 

Do you think there will ever be a time when the format will not be sustainable anymore?

I thought yes to this 10 years ago but now it’s more popular than then. I feel this is due to everything becoming too accessible in the way we consume music in the last 10 years. I think people like to put the value back into the music they’re investing into. 

Besides your own label, what are some of your more recent acquisitions that are currently your go-to weapons for the dance floor?

I’ve always been a big fan of the label Tessellate and The Trip and their music. Love on The Rocks is a label I’ll always love and play music from as well. 

And lastly can you play us out with a song in anticipation of your visit to Jaeger?

‘Square One’ by Kosh is a track I’ve been playing in every set of late

Bypåskefestivalen 2024

The lineup for our annual Bypåskefestivalen is now confirmed with some familiar faces and new concepts joining the city blowout.

We leave the white powder to the mountain and take up residence in the beating heart of the city. It’s Easter and while the rest of the city hits the mountains and slopes we’re making our stand in our urban enclave of bass. The annual Bypåskefestivalen returns with our usual coterie of residents and guests taking over the long weekend at Jaeger. Double Trouble, Schmooze and Brus, Helt Texas, Flux, Frædag, LYD, Footfood and Moving Heads take residents over the course of the week with guest appearances by Skatebård, Demi Riquísimo and much more joining our residents across the two booths.

Our latest Sunday concept Moving Heads and the guys behind Schmooze & Brus and Flux mark new additions to the Bypåske concepts with each bringing their own unique take on the clubbing landscape to our two floors, from the airy heights of uplifting House music to the determined underground and platonic shifting rumble of Techno. Familiar guests like Prins Thomas, Skatebård and Footfood stay the course in 2024 with international visitors Shonky, Demi Riquísimo and Den Anden Side breaking up the local roll-call.

See the entire lineup here and find more information about the festival here and the individual events here.

27.03 – Prins Thomas + Isoebel + Skatebård 
                BCR: Anders Hajem + Henrik Villard + Perkules

28.03 – Helt Texas: Shonky + Normann + Ole HK
                 Schmooze & Brus: DJ Stuk & Salamanca + Max Lok

29.03 – Frædag: g-HA & Olanskii + Demi Riquísimo 
                 Flux Collective x Den Anden Side: Bjerregaard + Matriark + Johannes Astrup  

30.03 – Nightflight x Lyd: Nora Pagu + Olle Abstract + MC Kaman & Kash

31.03 – Footfood: g-HA & Olanskii + diskJokke + Vinny Villbass
                Moving Heads: Casablanca 303 + Tonchius & friends + Hetty & J André





Love what you do with COEO

We fired off some questions to Munich/Berlin-based duo COEO as they head to Jaeger for Schmooze and Brus this Friday and talked about origins, Munich and their keenness for Djing.

Florian Vietz and Andreas Höpfl are COEO and they have been making music together since their teens in Munich. They started making an impression in the age of the music blog, and their tracks like “Get Down” hit an immediate nerve with their deep, luxurious sound capturing a zeitgeist that dominated the dance floors at that time. 

As the time went on their music matured, but never losing touch with that youthful charm that they’ve cultivated early on, as they folded elements of Disco and Jazz into later productions. Their long standing relationship with Munich-based record label Toy Tronics, have provided a consistent platform for releases from the duo with labels like Razor and Tape and Shall not Fade also flocking to their music to break off a piece of COEO for themselves.

Their latest record “Rush Hour” finds the duo in an energetic furore, charting a course for bigger rooms. An uplifting melody bounces between tireless beats as strings smooth out the arrangement. The duo’s history with 90’s Hip Hop and a legacy of Georgio Moroder and Donna Summer in Munich have coalesced around a distinctive sound for the pair, built on the foundation of those earliest releases.

Their work in the studio has built bridges to the world‘s most sought after DJ booths and as DJs COEO are equally adept, garnering a reputation today as one of the most enigmatic DJ duos out there. They’ll arrive at Schmooze and Brus this week and we took the opportunity to find out more about their early days, their relationship with Toy Tonics and the future of COEO.

Hey guys and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I’ve read some interviews and I know you were friends long before COEO. What was the catalyst for you to start working on music together?

Florian: When you are young you are full of energy. We wanted to be creative and start our own project. Everything you see on TV or hear on the radio is so far away, but when you start listening to underground hip hop or electronic music you realise that this is music by young people and for young people and you can be part of that scene. We wanted to be like our role models and I think this was the catalyst of starting to make music.

Andreas: And also our acquaintance with a crew called Scrape Tactitions, who were very successful in the turntable championships- the ITFs, International Turntablist Federation- played a big role for us, because it also got us very involved with DJing and the possibilities that turntables offer.

Were you working on music individually before then, and how did you find yourselves adapting to each other in the studio/creative endeavour?

Florian: No, we haven’t had any solo projects before and couldn’t even play any instruments when we started our duo. We were 15 when we bought our first turntables and DAWs for sampling music. In the beginning it was a slow autodidactically process and more like a learning by doing thing. But we were growing with our own tasks. By the time Andy was studying audio engineering and Florian learned to play piano. In the studio it never looked like Instagram producer videos where people are jamming together. Working in the studio together can be really annoying if the second person sits next to you and has to listen to 150 kick drums you can choose from. We prefer to work on ideas on our own and then finish tracks together. It can be really helpful to hear someone else’s opinion. :-)

As I understand it you are based in Munich for the most part. Munich has this incredible House music legacy. Tell us a bit about the scene there and how it shaped the start of your career.

Andreas: Of course, Munich was a great influence. When we went out at night, we were always soaking up the music and the atmosphere at the clubs. For its size Munich always had a more than adequate range of clubs that played house music. In the past we had magic nights in clubs like Die Registratur, Erste Liga, Awi and Kong, nowadays we love to go to Charlie, Goldener Reiter and Blitz- just to name a few. But at the moment we have to attend our own shows so we don’t show up there that often anymore. Moreover I moved to Berlin.

Florian: But also Munich based labels such as Toy Tonics and Public Possession give a lot back to the scene. They give artists a platform to create art, they throw parties in museums or off locations, sell fashion in their stores and thus gather a lot of young talented people around them. Many house Djs like Max NRG Supply and Rhode & Brown have radio shows on Radio 80K which is Munich’s most important community radio. We also love Benjamin Fröhlich’s Permanent Vacation label which has an incredible output of tasteful contemporary house music.

I feel that the city has always been this dark horse on the scene, bringing more provocative artists like DJ Hell and Skee Mask to the fore, as opposed to Berlin for example. What are your experiences with the scene there compared to the rest of Europe and what makes it so unique in your opinion?

Andreas: Good question, maybe because of its Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer/Musicland Studios history Munich has always had a great sense of self confidence and has not looked to the left or right. This could be the reason why it has developed and preserved its own style until today. In general it makes no sense to compare cities like Munich & Berlin, or Paris & London, as each city has shaped its own culture, and that’s a good thing as it ensures a high level of diversity.

What was it about House music that particularly appealed to you, and is it something that has always been there for you both as a group and as individuals?

Florian: I remember getting tired of Lil-Jon-esque Hip Hop in the 2000s. I loved midschool 90s Hip Hop, but the presence of mainstream hip hop made me search for something more different and more real. Being a kid in the late 90s I only knew house music as pop projects in the charts. As I grew older I discovered house music again from a totally different perspective. In the beginning there is the Charts-Dr-Alban-house music, but finally you understand and share the values of this whole movement. We quickly fell in love with 4-to-the-floor music.

With the Techno scene being the prevalent thing people associated Germany with, what does it take for a House act like yourself to make an impression and have you witnessed a change in attitudes since coming to the fore?

Andreas: Of course, techno always had a big presence in Germany, and of course it still does today. That was probably one of the reasons why we were first successful abroad and only later managed to gain a foothold in Germany.

When it came time to make your own music and leading up to your first single “Get Down” what was it solidified for you in terms of the sound of COEO?

Florian: Before that time we were experimenting a lot with music like Ramadanman and have never been fully satisfied with the result. With releasing Get Down on Globelle we thought this is the sound we want to make for the rest of our lives. From today’s perspective we think that it was not our best production. Especially technically we would make a lot of things different today, haha. 

I remember that track hitting a nerve with the blog community at a time when blogs had such a strong influence. What are your memories of that time in terms of how that track was received and what did mean for you going forward with the project?

Florian: It was a special time when the possibilities of the internet were explored and some nerds put their knowledge about music on the net. I remember that we listened to or read some blogs like “beatelectric” several times from the first to the last post. Every now and then I catch myself going to old blogs we loved and hoping that they will be continued, but unfortunately many of them are no longer existing. 10 years ago these sites were a big part of the scene and super important to get attention as a small artist. And of course we were proud of being featured on these pages and getting a lot of positive feedback.

Those early tracks are luxurious adventures into the deeper realms of House music, and it came at a time when Deep House was really the sound du jour. Was there anything in the air for you at that time which moulded the sound of those first releases, and what is your relationship with those early records today?

Andreas: Indeed, we were strongly influenced by and loved Deep House music at that time. We still like our early records, but I think we have been listening to our own releases too many times, haha. After playing it a thousand times you are no longer feeling it the same way. And that’s why we are always a bit critical about our music. But this is okay. ;-)

It was not long after that, that you released your first track via Toy Tonics, in a relationship that lasts to this day. I’ve heard the story of how you met some of the people in a club in Munich, but what made you want to release music with them?

Andreas: We have been fan of Mathias Modica’s (Kapote) music long before he founded Toy Tonics. We loved his output as Munk and saw him play a few times in Munich. Gomma was his label before he was running Toy Tonics. After we found out that Mathias started something new we paid a lot of attention to the new label and quickly realised that our music is similar to the music Toy Tonics is releasing.

They already had some success with a couple of Hard Ton releases at that point. Was there anything in their sound that you felt coincided with what you were doing and did you feel you had to adapt to the label at all?

Florian: My impression is that both the label and we have been in some sort of a discovery mode at that time. We didn’t think we had to adapt to the label that much. We were just hoping that they liked the music we produce.

Listening to a record like Feel Me (2014) and then Music for Friends (2021) the fundamental elements are still there, but there are elements of Jazz and Disco that have taken more of a foothold in these later records. Is that something that has matured in your own music, and is it something that matured alongside the influence of Toy Tonics?

Florian: Jazz and Disco have always been essential for us. We grew up with 90’s hip hop and house music that sampled a lot from the disco era. This is also how we got in touch with music from the 70s and 80s and we still love it. But I guess our sound always corresponded with the Zeitgeist at that time and the years before covid have seen a huge Disco revival on dancefloors in Europe. We loved it and that’s why our productions were a little bit more organic than in the beginning. Toy Tonics was going through a similar development and of course also had a big influence on us.

There’s more of this Disco / High Energy sound in your latest release, Planet Earth. Tell us a bit about this release and what were the sonic goals you were trying to achieve with this one.

Andreas: With this EP we set ourselves the goal of making a dancefloor record that covers different aspects of a club night. Fast or slow peak time tracks, but also tracks to start an evening with or to play at a later hour. We wanted to show a facet of ourselves that you don’t necessarily get from us when you go on spotify and listen to our top plays, which give the impression that we still specialize in disco edits, haha. Here the focus is on showing a little bit of the range of what music we like and play in our sets.

Besides these new elements, what do you feel has been the greatest evolution in your music in your opinion between something like Feel Me and Rush Hour?

Florian: Feel Me was heavily influenced by Leon Vynehall’s remix of Kevin Griffiths’ Acid Splash. In the early days you try to produce and sound like your role models. Sometimes it works and you get a result you are happy with that sounds like the original. Sometimes you end up somewhere else. This can also be fine but also means that you can’t exactly realize what you plan or imagine. I think this is the biggest difference to nowadays. We know exactly what kind of music we like, what kind of music works on the dancefloor and what synths or drums we have to use to make a track sound like this or that. This is the evolution. With the experience we have nowadays we can realize our ideas easier.

Your staying power has been impressive, especially at a time when social media and the internet creates such a volatile atmosphere for music’s relevance. What do you put down to that consistency?

Andreas: One thing for sure is passion- we honestly love what we do. Another thing is that we simply love every kind of music and we don’t limit ourselves to a certain genre. If you get bored of the same sounds I think it feels natural to try something else and move on.

As an artist it is good if your music continues to develop. When we were kids we didn’t understand why A Tribe Called Quest’s The Love Movement was produced by Jay Dee in the beginning. It was no longer sounding like the sample Hip Hop of Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders. But after a while we realized that this was the sound of that time and they were taking the next step. 

Nowadays we love the album and understand why an artist sometimes changes its sound. Maybe you don’t follow a “How to build your own franchise”-guideline when your sound doesn’t sound the same over the years, but for us it was never primarily about the money. We want to produce what we feel and what feels right for us. In the beginning it was deep house, then we were producing a lot of disco edits and disco influenced house music. Now our sound is becoming a little bit more ravier again and we welcome Italo and Prog House elements in our productions.

Your touring schedule as DJs has kept you pretty busy these days and I suppose like all other artists at the moment, the releases are just a way to get you into DJ booths. Do you guys feel that is the case and has DJing taken a centre stage for you in recent times?

Florian: Yes, indeed, Djing has taken a centre stage for us. We have even found little time to work on new output in recent years, but this is not necessarily a problem for us. We really like what we do. And we are very grateful for what we call our jobs.

What is it about DJing that scratches that creative itch for you?

Andreas: If you are on the hunt for a special records for ages, you finally hold it in your hands, play it and the people on the dancefloor go crazy, it is one of the best moments you can Imagine. 

Is it something that you assume is an extension of your work in the studio or do you feel it’s something completely different and does that ever feed back into your work in the studio?

Florian: Of course, it always affects our productions as well. We want to make music that (also) works on the dancefloor and makes people feel good and ecstatic.

How do you feel you compliment each other musically in the DJ booth and is it the same in the studio?

Andreas: Over the years we have become a very well-rehearsed team, maybe because we talk a lot about music we discover. 

Your sound as artists and DJs is something I believe resonates with what we do here at Jaeger. For the uninitiated, what can they expect when you visit?

Florian: People can expect a high energy journey that ranges from classic house to progressive house with some percussive breaks and excursions to disco.

And lastly, can you play us out with a song?

Andreas: Nanda Rossi- Mil Coracoes (Max Hammur Edit)

 

In a creative moment with Dandy Jack

Dandy Jack speaks ahead of his visit this Saturday for Det Gode Selskab‘s monthly club night at Jaeger. We talk early days the future and his next record on Det Gode Selskab’s upcoming VA.

Martin Schopf has been at the confluence of electronic music for as long as Techno has been around. From the obscure experimentalist to rhythmical wizard, he has garnered success at various points of his career in many different guises going by his alias Dany Jack or the many variations of that moniker since the early nineties.

At the height of his popularity he and compatriot and friend Ricardo Villalobos ushered in a new and wholly unique era for Techno as the minimal tag appeared on the scene. Releasing records alongside Ricardo as Ric Y Martin or as a solo artist, Dandy Jack became a household name in record bags and DJ booths.

He’s released classic records in today’s terms on the likes of Perlon and has worked with everybody from Atom ™ to Matthew  over the course of his career.

Best known for his adept hand as a producer it was a world away, and again not really, from the DIY beginnings of the industrial electronic movement he first encountered in Berlin back in the eighties; where he as a young Chilean seeking refuge from a dictatorship started developing his artistic voice.

Today, he calls Geneva home. It’s a “very calm city” compared to Berlin, he says over a telephone call, “but good for making music.“ He is still very active on the music front, and his next release is on its way. The track, called Divine in Chile, comes courtesy of Det Gode Selskab’s next compilation Jack’s Favourites #3.

It’s an explorative Techno creation that goes as deep as the mariana trench, while a female vocal entices with its siren-like charm. Dandy Jack is in full effect here channelling those always-present latin-infused influences through his enigmatic grooves. There’s always a hint of experimentalism that follows his music, but it’s curtailed from spiralling out of control by the magnetism of the dance floor.

It’s this release we’ll be celebrating this upcoming Saturday for the next instalment of Det Gode Selskab at Jaeger and we get in touch with a chipper Martin, preparing for his upcoming set.

Dandy Jack: I’m really happy coming to Oslo, to see my friends.

Mischa Mathys: It’s not your first time playing here. Do you remember the last time?

DJ: It’s been a while. The last time was with Sonja (Moonear) 3 or 4 years ago.

MM: Are you and Sonja still together?

DJ: Not as a couple, but we’re still friends. We live in the same city, and we take care of our daughter together.

MM: And do you still collaborate on music?

DJ: We are not collaborating on music at the moment, but we are working together on the label, Ruta5. Sonja is quite busy, so I take care of almost everything, but we put together parties and everything else to do with the label.

MM: I see there are constantly new releases coming from you, not just as an artist, but also producing other people’s things. Are you in the studio every day?

DJ: Yeah, every day. I’m doing three things: I’m making music for me; I’m producing music for other people; and I’m teaching. I also organise workshops, I’m travelling quite a lot and lately often to Ukraine.

MM: Are you teaching production?

DJ: I teach how to mix down, and how to use compressors and mastering. Everything with Ableton, basically. I think I have a good knowledge on how things should sound.

MM: They couldn’t ask for a better teacher. You have over 30 years of knowledge in the field of production. Do you feel that you have to disconnect as an artist in order to do the other stuff?

DJ: This is perhaps a problem. I can have too much influence on my students and those people that want to be produced by me. In the end, it sounds like I did it. I become something like a ghost producer, but that is also OK, I don’t have a problem with that.

MM: And then there’s also the artists you put out on Ruta5.

DJ: I try to integrate a lot of other people, but when you take somebody on to the label, you also take on the responsibility. That’s more difficult.

MM: You mentioned you’ve signed artists from Ecuador and Japan, and you’ve worked with a Venezuelan girl too. That’s quite a global reach.

DJ: Ruta5 was born in Chile so I get a lot of requests from South American artists. It’s not frequently that I hear something interesting, so I’m also open to accept artists like this Japanese girl too. I always have a personal relationship with the artist and the goal is to create a friendship. Recently this young Russian woman who wants to release on my label; that for me is incredible.

MM: You don’t think this might be a bit controversial considering that you work in Ukraine as well?

DJ: I don’t like to politicise this thing, because people are people. She is not a Russian, she’s just a human being to me. A lot of Russians are also victims of their situation. I’m talking about young musicians. The next generation of young musicians, they just want to express themselves, and they can’t leave their country. I can relate because I also lived under a dictatorship in Chile and left the oppression and torture. You can’t open your mouth, otherwise you end up in jail. It’s horrible.

MM: I actually wanted to ask you about your time in Chile under Pinochet, because seeing the world as it is now, it’s gotta be quite relevant to your own experiences?

DJ: It’s a really frustrating situation at the moment. The illusion that humans could change is not happening. I have a feeling that we still need some generations to make a society work with establishing new interesting values, because the values today are down. It’s horrible what is happening now. Wars and people killing each other like in Gaza, it’s a horror trip.

MM: Let’s rewind to when you left Chile under the dictatorship for Berlin. What was Berlin like during that time?

DJ: We were all really young and enthusiastic. There was a lot of hope, thinking we could change the world. It was a very creative moment.

MM:This was the 80’s and I want to ask you about Sub Rosa, the first project specifically.

DJ: I was 16 years old.

MM: That was more industrial to what you are known for today.

DJ: It was inspired by Throbbing Gristle. It was pure industrial music like Cabaret Voltaire. These guys were inspiring, and I had the capacity to value this music. Many people didn’t understand it. I grew up during a time when people were listening to rock music like Santana. When I listened to On the Run from Pink Floyd the first time, I was 8 years old, and I was shocked by the depth and the possibility in music that makes you travel. This was the fascination in electronic music for me.

MM: Did you always have this association with the dance floor in terms of this type of music?

DJ: The dance floor came much later. In the beginning I didn’t agree with this Techno movement from Detroit. I found it a bit boring. It was depressing to experience this wave of electronic music coming into this world of electronic music, which I considered much more open. It was too simple for me.

MM: So what changed?

DJ: If it wasn’t for Ricardo Villalobos who said; “Martin, stop refusing and come to a club with me and dance to a boom boom boom, ” I wouldn’t be doing it. Back in the eighties, we had this inner conflict in our group, but in the end I accepted it.

MM: Was it that atmosphere in the club and listening to the music with other people that changed your mind?

DJ: Yes, it was about me leaving my arrogance at the door, and then I understood the complexity of the simplicity. I realised a dance track can also be interesting.

MM: People don’t always realise it’s not just about programming a drum machine. It’s about a groove and without it, the machine is just a metronome.

DJ: Yes, and I also had my latin influences to fall back on, like cumbia. Latin American music is rhythmically more complex than Techno. I had to find a way between both; the complexity of the rhythm combined with the industrial sound.

MM: As you started combining these sounds, at what point does it become second nature to you and you start putting records out?

DJ: In the beginning we were just copying tapes. James Dean Brown was a bit older than me and he was already connected to people from the 80’s industrial stuff. He had four tape recorders at home and he was running a tape label. We started making tapes in the beginning. The first record I made  was a project with Tobias. At that time he was called Pink Elln. He made the first pressing of a single that we did. It was a 45 and we distributed it by hand.

MM: Working in Berlin, as somebody from Chile – an outsider – was it difficult getting your foot in the door and into the scene there?

DJ: Yes, it was super complicated. In the end, me and Tobias, we split with another person in the group because he wanted to continue in the industrial stuff, and me and Tobias were making more “commercial” stuff. We got a contract with Sony music. If you listen to that music today, you understand it is far from commercial. It was an interpretation of commercial music that we had in our head when we were 23. Everything was new, and nothing was established.

MM: And then you hit a nerve and people like you and Ricardo Villalobos ushered i n this new era for Techno music. What was key to that success?

DJ: We had the opportunity to grow up in a moment when everything was fresh. There was also this mix between the moment, talent and the mission. You need all three elements to do what you are doing and then it obviously inspires a lot of other people. We were not trying to make a repetition, we were trying to make something out of nearly nothing. Everything came together in terms of what was happening with electronic music and the industry.

MM: Considering your early music and what you’re doing now, do you think you were ever pigeonholed during the Perlon era?

DJ: I was doing so much more stuff than what was released; thousands of tracks I did in the moment. I have the impression that my inspiration is not always the same. I like this phenomena that music looks like a camera. We live in a frame of time that is really small. I can still live from the ideas  developed ten years ago and it still sounds amazing.

MM: Let’s fast forward to the present. We have to talk about the next Det Gode Selskab release. Do you remember making Divine in Chile?

DJ: Yes. This girl (vocalist on the track) comes from Hip Hop. She’s a young girl from Venezuela and I met her on the street. She sings and raps really well and her approach to music is, she wants to be famous. When it came time to record the vocals for this track, she came with her own vocal producer. I played her 5 – 10 tracks of mine and this one, Divine in Chile, was the most harmonic one. For me it was an experiment, and I’m quite happy with the result.

MM:  Was it always intended for Det Gode Selskab or was it just a result of what you had on  hand at that time?

DJ: At the moment when they asked me, this was the best track I had to give them.

MM: Is that a request you get often; to make tracks for other labels?

DJ: Yes people ask me to make a track for them, but I don’t do it very often. I did this because Det Gode Selskab are my friends and I like to support them. I usually keep it for myself and turn it into four tracks, and put it out on my own label.

to be continued…

 

Pieces falling into place with Niilas

At the end of 2019 things couldn’t have been worse for Niilas, but then an album, a Spellemann and a new defining sound ushered in a new era of success and creativity

The winter of 2019 was a strange time for Peder Niilas Tårnesvik. He had just broken up with his girlfriend of 7 years, and then a double tendonitis in his wrists and then an eye infection exacerbated the situation. Just when life looked its bleakest and things couldn’t get possibly worse for Peder the pandemic arrived too and shepered in an unprecedented time for our society and more turmoil for the artist called Niilas. “It felt like my life had crumbled to pieces in a matter of weeks,” he says over a telephone call in a raspy voice. 

Things started looking up however. “At the exit of that long and dark tunnel, I had a closer relationship with making music,” he continues. Back in 2019, as he was working his way through that “fairly extreme” experience of a relationship ending, illness and the pandemic, he found solace in the music he was making and as he forged a closer relationship with that music some things began to click for him.

Niilas had been making and releasing music since 2014 and had even found some early success, but there was always something missing. “I got a lot of wind in my sails early in my career and I was comparing myself with Kygo, Røyksopp and Cashmere Cat; all these really big stars.“ It “almost destroyed everything,” however, as Peder used these artists as a watermark in his own career, an unattainable goal in reality for an emerging artist only at the start of his career.. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to become mainstream successful.“

Tracks from that era like “Ocelote” are uplifting sojourns through tropical hues of synthesised mallets while restless beats move listlessly from phrase to phrase in continuous evolutions of the rhythms . They are crafted meticulously and clearly touched a nerve within the zeitgeist,  but capitulating to what was happening around him only left Peder “really frustrated with the music scene.”

Peder kept releasing singles and EPs however, racking up the plays and the streams, and even though there was a relative hype around him and his music, he would never come close to those millions of streams and plays he sought. The frustration only intensified as a result and he kept “stumbling into creative walls, not finding my place in the music scene or finding my sound.”

Niilas performs River of Noise live at Jaeger

It would take the experiences of the winter of 2019 for a sonic identity to emerge for Peder. When he began putting the tracks he was making together, the red thread that would form the foundation of the album would reveal itself. Instead of chasing those unattainable reaches of success, he simply succumbed to the music. “After that process of letting go of all the expectations and comparisons; that experience really helped me in transitioning into the artist that I have now become.”

“Pieces fell into place” for Peder and his artistic identity in the album, because it solidified the sound of Nillas, where there was definitely a “before and after.” It brought something innately personal to the fore in the process and he found himself delving into the deep recesses of his psyche in something that laid buried in a collective history. He hadn’t really explored these recesses much in the past but within the context of this new music he was making a latent cultural heritage revealed itself in the artistic endeavour. “It has a lot to do with integrating the Sámi aspects of my identity,” he explains.

Peder is Sámi; a direct descendant of the indigenous people of northern Norway (Sápmi) and today their cultural heritage is polluted in the muddy waters of Norway’s politics of forced assimilation and of the discrimination the Sámi people have endured since the creation of a Norwegian state. Many people have lost their cultural identity and for Peder it was about redefining that in his music as he started to consolidate the themes and concepts around this new era of Niilas. 

It wouldn’t be easy though. “Since I don’t have the Sámi language and the traditional Sámi joik; I was struggling a bit figuring out how the experiences of coming from a Sámi family and coming from up north in Sápmi, how can that work in the electronic landscape.”

If it sounds abstract, that’s because it is, especially in the context of electronic music, but there is something peculiar to the music on “Also this will Change”. It taps into some natural instinct and an immersive sound quality. Synthesisers and samples gallop in and out of some vague idea of a time signature, following “circular way of thinking about time and structure within music.” Peder likens it to walking a mountain or forest path; “Even though the path is the same and the person is the same, there are always a lot of variables. It’s a lot about shifting perspectives between macro and micro.” 

It’s impossible to ignore that exchange between the natural world and the music, as field recordings and the burbling nature of the music make some direct associations with the Sámi’s own concepts and ideas of nature. It goes as far to speak of similarities between many indigenous traditions from other parts of the western world. At a recent event in Iceland, Peder  was struck by the musical concepts he shared with other artists from other “indigenous communities” like Greenland and Canada.” They particularly resonated with the “seemingly common ideas of connecting with nature;” in what seems to be a universal ideology in a culture that lives off the resources of the world around them. There is often a natural sympathy and a calm balance with nature in these cultures. 

This is something that definitely feels like it’s in the air at the moment with the winds of change blowing throughout indigenous worlds. From TV shows to movies, music to visual art, there has been notable activity from indigenous artists making their mark in popular culture at the moment. This cultural wave has largely fallen on this next generation’s shoulders as they, like Peder, try to grapple with a cultural heritage they might have lost through decades, if not centuries of discrimination.

Peder is not trying to be “overtly political” in his music, however. “I wasn’t bringing up this thing as an active choice,” he explains. “ In retrospect, across the whole Sámi community, people from my generation are taking their Sámi heritage back, and for my parents’ generation, dealing with a lot of the family trauma they were exposed to, and figuring out what to do going forward. And for my grandfather’s generation, they are also dealing with on-hand experiences of Norwegian society mis-treating their rights.“

“At the time it just felt that this is something I have to do right now, and I’m not sure why.” It’s easy to see it today in the context of the shifting opinion of a cultural wave moving across Scandinavia, but back in 2020, when Peder released his debut LP it wasn’t like he was tapping into this wave and even if you know nothing of his cultural heritage the music is still there without its reference points.

While, in the background there is this cultural heritage and the artist making the music, the nature of this stark electronic music, often without vocals, doesn’t insist on it. As Niilas, Peder folds in an eclectic palette of references in his music. From broken beats, to four to the floor  House music, to ambient constructions, he makes land on each musical island as he journeys toward those uncharted territories of what Sámi experimental club music could be. He’s used recognisable tropes in popular dialects of western electronic music as stepping stones towards this goal. He’s a product of his generation and like his peers his “artistic upbringing has had a lot to do with finding an immense amount of music from all over the world” through the internet.

From Flying Lotus to Biosphere, these have all informed a broad sonic landscape of influences. In the past, Peder, in search of a musical community online, was trying to harness all these influences and musical touchstones in making a connection to the “strange phenomenon” of the “deconstructed club music” community. Through the ideas of that community, Peder had created all these “fake rules that you found for yourself online” and promised never to make a four-four track. Armed with this set of rules and chasing the success it never really manifested for Peder in the way he’d imagined and he soon realised that this  “can be really destructive for the creative process.”

“I just let go of all of these rules and realised that making a House track is not the end of the world. When you let go of trying to have too much control over the material, the artist within shows up.”

Racking up a further three (“and a half”) albums in the same amount of years, Peder has cultivated an artistic sound that seems to be endlessly creative and the results speak for themselves. In 2020 he won the Spellemann prize for “Also this must Change,” an honour that validated his new sonic identity and “was a big confirmation that I’m not just making it for myself, but other people are actually listening to it.”   

It put the wind in the sails again, but this time there is some substance to it, and after following his debut with “Stepping Stones” and an ambient indulgence called “Hydrophane,” he closed out 2023 with his most recent album “River of Noise,” a record that has been lauded as much as his first.

River of Noise doesn’t mark any kind of departure from his debut or the albums leading up to it, but something broods beneath the surface. Tracks like “5th floor” almost completely dissolve themselves from any natural associations but you can still find those cultural touchstones in the names of the intro track or the quaint fiddle coursing its way through “Pyromid.”

The album is the penultimate step on an evolutionary ladder that finds Peder moving into slightly different territory. “Through the last 4 albums, I’ve been going through what the Sámi experience has had on my music and now it feels like I’m not dealing as directly with those Sámi influences, but working with those colourful dance tracks. They don’t have to be part of this heavy concept.” He’s already finishing up a couple of tracks in this vein, but at the same time he’s just finding enjoyment in the act of performance, whether playing live or DJing. 

The Spellemann is there on the shelf, but the ultimate validation for Peder these days is that “connection to the audiences. People get something from the music. That’s where the juice really is, it’s not getting a superficial award – but it’s easy to say when I’ve actually won it.” (Laughs) 

* words by Mischa Mathys

Our best kept secret: Snorkel presents N.A.O.M.B

We discuss the prevalent appeal of Olav Brekke Mathisen and Sideshow Jøgge’s N.A.O.M.B with Snorkel’s Olefonken and Snorri as the album gets the reissue treatment from the label and an official release party at Jaeger this Friday.

There are albums that live outside of their time. For a multitude of reasons, they never truly get the recognition they deserve. They might even inform a zeitgeist, and still not garner the same kind of distinction that their peers enjoy. It’s almost like they’re designed for obscurity, cultivating a brief dalliance with their audience before disappearing from view. Like a one-night stand at a star-crossed intersection it’s a fleeting encounter destined for wistful nostalgia. 

There are those however that never forget that encounter; hold onto it for a lifetime as a memory of sonic perfection they strive their whole career in an attempt to pay due diligence. Snorkel records’ Olefonken and Snorri are those kinds of people and Olav Brekke Mathisen and Sideshow Jøgge’s NAOMB is one of those albums. 

NAOMB or Nugatti all Ova me Butty came out over twenty years ago. It was a record that made an indelible impact in Oslo’s space race towards a “Nu” era of Disco at the time with artists like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm and Todd Terje at the helm of the ship. While the aforementioned went on to great heights, Olav and Jøgge broke off at the first stage, making a contribution that was brief, but no less significant. International media outlets like Jockey Slut were quick to sing their praises, but as their one and only LP, and very little else in the form of music to follow from the pair, they kind of slipped into obscurity, at least in the music scene.  

Jøgge would become an actor, and Olav set his sights on writing, neither to ever venture into the world of recorded music ever again. You could argue if they had kept at it, NAOMB would enjoy the same kind of reverent awe as those first Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm records and as an album there is no reason it couldn’t still hold its own alongside some of Oslo’s more revered albums. Analogue synthesisers and grooves made for dancing bounce through 12 tracks, and they’ve hardly aged. The timeless nature of the sounds and their breadth of their musical dialect provide a touchstone from almost every decade of “dance” music; from progressive funk of the 70’s; the post-jazz inclinations of eighties and even right up to the French staccato of late 90’s House, it’s all there and it’s survived remarkably well. 

While the duo’s inactivity in the music scene might have certainly played a role in the album being largely forgotten there are still a few musical diehards like the people behind Snorkel, that will endeavour to shine a light where necessary. After a chance encounter with the pair, NAOMB gets the reissue treatment and what they’ve done is installed it in its rightful place in the Norwegian canon of music. As the label prepares for the official release party at Jaeger and the duo prepare for their accompanying live show, we got in touch with Snorkel and hopefully Olav and Jøgge to find out more about the origins of the record and its significance today. 

How did you meet Olav and Jøgge?

Initially, we were just kids trying to keep up with the cool of what our older brothers and their friends were listening to at that time, and Olav and Jøgge was one of them, so we were lucky to see them play live several times and thought they were cooler than a popsicle! And against all advice, we later took the plunge and actually hung out with our boyhood heroes. Lucky for us, they turned out to be two loveable guys! 

Has N.A.O.M.B always been on the back of your mind as something that you want to re-release, or was it triggered by the chance encounter?

N.A.O.M.B had always been on the back of our minds ever since we heard it at high school. It’s like the plague – you can’t get rid of it even how much you try – the only difference is that you don’t want to get rid of it either. It’s like a black cup of joe on a moonless night! 

That said, Snorkel wasn’t initially conceived with reissues in mind, despite our deep admiration for labels putting in the work to unearth exceptional music. However, two albums left an immense impact on our musical taste: dibidim’s debut album “Riders” and Olav Brekke Mathisen & Sideshow Jøgge’s “N.A.O.M.B.” If you plot these albums on a spectrum, everything in between shapes the Snorkel sound today. This release is the final token atop our totem pole, the foundation for everything else to come.

What was it about the record that endeared you to it in the first place? 

When we first laid ears on the record, it was like the musical equivalent of finding a hidden stash of chocolate in the vegetable drawer – delightfully unexpected and rebellious!

What were Olav and Jøggee’s reaction when you told them you wanted to reissue it?

It seemed like they didn’t believe us at the beginning. It was probably only when we started showing up at their doorstep that it dawned on them that we were serious! Now that it has become a reality, they have showered us with joy and gratitude, something we find peculiar and surreal to grasp, considering that for us, releasing this on our own label is a dream come true!

Did they tell you what was behind that title and the acronym for “Nugatti all Ova me Butty”? 

Oh, we never mustered the courage to ask! Some mysteries are better off remaining unsolved, you know

The record would have come out originally at a time when there was so much focus on Norway and Oslo specifically for what would be coined as Space Disco. Was it as well received as some of the other records coming out of Oslo at that time?

Even though “NAOMB” has been tucked away like a hidden treasure, unlike the more well-known Norwegian Nudisco classics of its time, it managed to catch the ears of influential DJs such as Doc Martin, Gerd Janson, and the late Andrew Weatherall, among others. Ironically, we used to be the secret-keepers, now 20 years later yelling from the rooftops about its triumphant return! 

It’s a timeless sounding record and it’s aged magnificently well. What in your opinion has contributed to its longevity?

Well must be that secret sauce – lubricating nugatti all over your butty!

Was anything changed in terms of music or post-production for the reissue and what were the reasons for those decisions?

The tracks “hasjbox” and “fluffy the vampire” are included on vinyl for the very first time, which they weren’t back in 2003. And also the whole album ends with Olav’s stunner “take to the sky” which is a really nice prick over the I, as we say here in Norway!

The original LP was never released on vinyl I believe and Snorkel is very much all about the analogue. What was the biggest challenge putting this on vinyl, and do you think putting out like this, in a format that it was never intended for, brought something else across on this record?

The biggest challenge was to get the boys to remember anything from 20 years ago. Where are the original projects? Do you have any back up disks etc. But then again the first song is called “hasjbox” so yeah, you see where this is going!

Is this going to be the start of some new music from the duo or is it destined for one-night only?

Going through the old disks uncovered a treasure trove of forgotten gems. As we are working on Snorkel’s new 12” series, who knows? We might just get more from OBM & Jøgge in the near future…

 

Making Music for Humans with Meera

In our exclusive interview with rising Norwegian House music star Meera, we talk origins, influences and the impact of her breakout single.

Meera’s name is on everybody’s lips at the moment. Every club concept and DJ in Norway has been trying to lure the DJ and producer to their nights. DJ booths from Ibiza to Oslo have welcomed Meera alongside older peers like Black Coffee and Simon Field. Her star has been consistently rising and her DJ talents have been a serious demand following the trajectory of her break out single “Music for Humans.” 

With some early support from the likes of Black Coffee again, Damian Lazarus and John Digweed – to name only a few – Meera started to shake the world’s dance floors through some of the world’s most influential selectors over the last year.  She’s followed the success of that record with two equally strong releases in the form of “Telefon” and “Clean the Turbines,” solidifying a sound for the young artist early on.

Between rhythmical foundations that err towards non-western traditions and euphoric melodic expressions that touch hedonistic heights, Meera has cultivated a unique sound forged on the foundations of House music. She’s emerged as a solitary figure with her productions hard to define and as it extends to her DJ sets, equally divergent from anything going on around her. 

After making her debut in Oslo and at Jaeger last month for Simon Field’s basement event, Meera returns to Jaeger’s booth this Saturday for Olle Abstract’s LYD. As much as we’ve followed her progress ver the last year, we know very little of the emerging artist and with her visit looming we caught up with her via telephone for an exclusive chat with Meera.  

Where are you at the moment?

I’m at home in Stavanger.

I read your biography and it mentioned that you grew up with your dad blaring music everywhere. What kind of music was he playing?

It was a lot of Hard-House, classic House and a lot of Hip Hop too. 

Does he come from a DJ background too?

He’s been DJing since the eighties.

And that was your musical education?

It was my introduction to DJing. 

How long have you been Djing? 

I’ve been DJing since I was fourteen, so 12 years ago.

Has there ever been any sonic influence from your dad, because I remember when I was 14, my taste couldn’t have been further from my father’s?

I mostly play my own music. 

So you didn’t start by playing the records that were just around at home?

I started playing digitally with Serato and stuff on the laptop. I didn’t start playing vinyl until two years ago?

Are you finding some classic gems in your Dad’s record collection today?

I do sometimes, but there is just so much music.

Was it always electronic music for you?

When I was young I was mostly into emo and rock, so a lot of My Chemical Romance and Linkin park, that kind of stuff.

How did you arrive electronic music from there?

I think I discovered Daft Punk and it snowballed.

Which Daft Punk era was this?

It must have been when the “Around the World” video was on MTV. 

At that point, did you change your whole attitude towards music and it became only about electronic dance music?

I was pretty into it, but I was incorporating French House with Rock and Hip Hop; everything I liked. I have always been appreciative of all kinds of music. 

I know Stavanger has had some really good DJs that has come out of it, but was there anything like a scene there that could cultivate your interests early on?

There was a small community of DJs starting up. We had this open-deck night at a bar that I used to go to, it was a cocktail bar. I would go there with some friends and it was pretty open to everyone.

How did it develop from there. Did you go into production from there?

O no, I started producing when I was 10 years old. I was already making music.

You were making music before you even started DJing. So was the point to get that music out there so people could listen to it?

Not really. I just thought both things were fun, and I did them independently. 

One doesn’t really effect the other?

When I was DJing at 14, I was mainly playing EDM and that kind of stuff and he music I was making, was more like Filter House, Garage and Drum n Bass. It was very different.

What was the route to the first release, “Music for Humans” because you must have been making a lot of music up to that point?

I did self-release an album and three EPs, but mostly it’s been only for me. I have this Soundcloud profile of really old tracks. It’s not something I advertise, it’s just out there.

Is it similar to the more recent stuff?

Not at all. 

Considering how big Music for Humans became after its release, is it something that you anticipated when you were making the track? 

I don’t really remember making it. I just sent it to the people VOD (Vinyl on Demand) and they really liked it. 

Did you expect it to be so well received, not only by the public, but by your peers; people like Black Coffee and Damian Lazarus?

No. I just thought it was cool that VOD was interested and then it just kind of blew up in a way. It’s been pretty surreal seeing huge DJ support and playing the track and the EP. 

That also led to playing to places like Ibiza. Are you still playing in that cocktail bar in Stavanger? 

Yes, I still do once or twice a month.

There must be a huge difference going from something like that to a Black Coffee night in Ibiza.

It’s pretty jarring.

Do you feel you have to adapt to that kind of crowd?

Not really. When I DJ, I play what I want to hear so it doesn’t change a lot.

After “Music for Humans,” came “Telefon” and “Clean your turbines” and there is a distinctive sound that emerges between those three releases. Was there a conscious idea to establish a sound for yourself or was it just because they were made around the same time?

The time difference between those tracks is pretty huge. I think it was just the direction the tracks ended up going in. I didn’t consciously try to make them sound like each other.

Well it’s very unique since you have these Latin- and African rhythmical motives under pinning these melodic, ethereal on euphoric synths. How did you come upon fusing these elements in your music?

It’s just a result of me drawing from the all the music I like.

How did the African and Latin elements specifically arrive into your palette?

Keinemusik and pablo fierro kinda drove my interested in seeking out more non-western music. That’s when I really got into that sound, and since then I’ve been listening to a lot of African Rock and Disco from the 70’s and  80’s. I discovered artists such as itadi, polibio mayorga, la solucion, and mulato astatke who have all had some kind of impact on my sound.

After these three releases do you have anything coming up, that you’re excited to talk about yet?

I have my collaboration with Danish trio Tripolism coming on Friday, that will be on Ultra. And then I have an Ep coming on Crosstown rebels in late February. Then I also have one coming in black book records in April or March. 

Are they all kind of similar to the sound you’ve already cultivated through the first three releases? 

The next EP is going to be kind of similar and the other two are going to be a bit different.

Thank you for talking to us Meera. We’ll see you in the Dj booth next. 

I’m really looking forward to playing at Jaeger again. 

I Wanna Party with Henriku

We caught up with Henriky via Berlin to talk about his music, Quirk, the Gode Selskab, his formative years, queer clubbing in Berlin and Bikini Wax ahead of his stint at Jaeger for Lokomotiv

From the suburbs of Oslo, via the UK ato eventually Berlin; and through Garage and House to minimal, Henriku’s path to the wax has stopped on many different elements of club music to get to his debut record Rush/Fantasy. While he never set foot in a club before leaving Norway, and with little input from anything he was hearing at home, Henriku has waded through a curious path in music. His associations with Quirk and Det Gode Selskab run deep, as the building blocks on  which his own approach to the minimal landscape has taken foothold. 

It was at one of Det Gode Seslkab’s boat parties where the seed of ambition was planted towards a career as a producer. After a stint at university where he studied the production art, he found his calling in the sonic landscape of those peers before embarking on the next chapter of his career at Quirk where he found a kindred spirit in the label’s founder Alexander Skancke. After a few collaborative releases via that label, Henrikuu released his first solo record “Rush Fantasy” via Det Gode Selskab records in what could only be described as fate.  

Henriku’s tracks  like “I wanna party” are club tracks with a purpose and a sense of frivolous fun that engages as much as it propels. There’s a sense of infectious enjoyment that courses from that track all the way through to a track like “Pillow Talk”, taken from “Rush Fantasy”. 

A DJ that operates in the extended minimal landscape, Henriku is a regular fixture in Berlin’s booths like Hoppetosse as well as some of Oslo’s booths like Jaeger.  (He even played at the very first Helt Texas.) He’s been coming back more often recently as his star continues to rise back home in league with his efforts in Berlin. He maintains a very close relationship with the Quirk family and together they’ve started to carve out a sonic identity based on the minimal sonic landscape and imbued by a queer vision of a minimal scene. 

We caught up with Henriku via phone call just as he was about to head out for a shift at the iconic Bikini Wax to talk about his music history, Djing and the queer scene in Berlin, as he prepares to return to Jaeger for Lokomotiv’s Romjulsfestivalen takeover. 

What have you been up to this weekend?

This weekend I played Iat Sisyphos, playing back to back with Alexander Skancke, my good and beloved friend. We played from 05:00 – 09:00 on Sunday morning. It was lots of fun. 

Are you playing every week in Berlin at the moment?

Unfortunately, no. I only started playing club gigs about a year and a half ago, with the first Quirk night. It still goes in waves for me. Some months I have plenty, some are a bit slower. November has been quite well. The week before we had a Quirk night at Hoppetosse. 

What is the atmosphere in Berlin like at the moment for DJs? I can imagine there are quite a few DJs out there at the moment. 

For the time being it’s quite alright. Personally, I think it’s a matter of point of view. A lot of people view the amount of DJs as competition, but I truly believe there is space for everyone to be creative and have success. It doesn’t have to come on other people’s terms. Yes, there are a lot of people, but there are also a lot of opportunities. That’s why the city attracts so many DJs. 

Are there new communities cropping up as well, or is it pretty much each man/woman for him/herself?

I think it’s both. I’ve found my community in Quirk. It makes the process of creating so much more fun, when you are building each other up, rather than stepping over each other. 

I always thought Quirk was Alexander Skancke’s label. Is the community, artists releasing on the label, or is it like a collective?

For the time being we are a total of five people that have released on the label, but mostly it’s just close friends at this point. It’s more like our friend circle. It’s artists who have released on the label, but it’s also broader, like the regular faces we see at our gigs, and good friends. We  are friends who like a similar kind of music and a core vision. 

From what I heard, it does seem like the label has a sound and it’s very much emphasised by the different releases and artists. How did you find your voice within the label?

Absolutely. Alex and I didn’t meet until 2019, and before we met we actually had a similar background in terms of the minimal sound, but from different points. Alex has been in the game a lot longer than me. He went through his minimal phase, went to sunwaves and then moved to Berlin, while tapping into those early nineties influences. And I have walked a similar path. I was obsessed with UK garage – that was my entry point – from UK garage I moved into House and then I moved to Berlin where I really got hooked on minimal. I went to Sunwaves where I got more hooked. From there I opened my horizons back to the roots of House and Garage and started exploring more Techno sounds. The red thread of minimal remains. That’s what makes the Quirk sound cohesive, if you will. Most of the people that are involved in Quirk at the moment, share these points of reference. 

It’s interesting that you mention UK garage as your entry into club music.  It’s not something you would associate with Norway at all. What led to that introduction?

I had a couple of friends from my gymnasium who did a year abroad in York, England. I visited and that’s where I had my first club experience. It was a funny mixture of commercial hits and UK Garage. The UK Garage and House Garage sound resonated with me and I needed to find more of it and find out what this was. 

Was this also the start of DJing and making electronic music for you?

I went back to the UK after this and to the Leeds festival where they had these camps that would play Garage and Bassline. And after I got home from this festival, I realised I need to be more in touch with this rather than just listening to it. I really wanted to start producing, but I was talking myself down saying; “no I don’t have any musical background, it’s way too late for me.” I tried DJing instead, and I bought my first DJ controller.  

I enjoyed it, but I realised it wasn’t enough. I looked into software for producing music, and thought I might as well try. I taught myself the basics through You Tube tutorials. By the end of that year, I managed to put together some tracks, and they were something. (laughs)

It was also at this point that I just finished gymnasium, wondering what I would do with my life and it was actually my dad that came across a university in Berlin that had a music production course. 

I’ve read an interview with you, where you mentioned you never actually went clubbing Norway. Is that correct; did you have no connection to the scene here before you left for Berlin?

Yes, that’s completely right. I had one friend who really enjoyed it. She had great taste in music and we reconnected when I was around 18 years old. She had already gone to a few raves and parties and showed me a lot of really cool stuff. At this time most places had an age limit of 21 so it was really hard. Before I reconnected with her nobody had wanted to go out with me. Luckily I linked up with her and the last party I had gone to was Det Gode Selskab boat party. I remember leaving that party, thinking there’s something really special here and it would be so cool to do something like this someday. This sparked something in me that really sent me on a mission to Berlin.  

I guess the Garage influences fell away when you moved to Berlin?

That is exactly what happened. Coming to Berlin and hearing Techno for the first time at Berghain and Griessmühle … The Techno scene was very different. Garage influences weren’t easy to find.

I wanted to ask you about something you said in another interview. You felt that there was a lack of queer representation in your scene in Berlin. Even in Berlin?

Yes, even in Berlin. There is a gap in the market. I am very curious about starting something up with some friends. Maybe if I find the time and energy. For the time being, it’s very locked in with contemporary Techno. Hardgroove is very big and so are those fast-paced sounds. There are some slow-paced sounds based around House music, because there is always the panorama bar to the Berghain. In terms of the minimal sound you’ll find at places like Hoppetosse, there’s not much going on for the queer folks. 

So it’s dominated by a straight audience, or the straight industry side of things?

It’s a combination of the two. There are definitely queer people that enjoy the music, but perhaps they’re not always the most inviting places for queer people. It’s not like there is any alienation, because there are still queer people showing up. In Berlin it’s very extreme in terms of the safe spaces these queer parties provide. Living in Berlin and experiencing that every weekend you get a bit spoiled. I  just think there should be a safe space for queer people to enjoy minimal music as well. I also think there is something to the fact that queer people are seeking High-Energy music. 

And you never got sucked into the hard and fast Techno that places like Berghain and Griesssmühle were doing?

I actually enjoy it on occasion. This summer I went  to a lot queer parties and spent some time with friends in Berghain as well. I think it’s fun as long as it’s groovy. I probably won’t produce it myself, but in terms of having a fun time, I can absolutely enjoy it. I need some ups and downs in the energy. What I miss in that scene is a story-line. 

When it came to the music you are producing today and in the context of Berlin, what was it that pushed you in that direction?

It was during my time at university. I made two really close friends in Sammy Lewis and the other one was Trent Voyage (who has also been releasing on Quirk.) As we were getting to know each other we saw we had a similar vision, and that was very influential on all of us. We went out and got a lot of input together; a lot from Griesmühle and Hoppetosse was a second home. 

It was really born from the club; what you were hearing in the club was directly influencing what you would do in the studio?

Absolutely. I see myself as a club kid, figuratively and then sometimes literally as well. There are influences from other kinds of music, but club music is what I do. 

It’s interesting that you mention club kids, because when I listen to your music, and the stuff you made with Alexander, you get the sense of having a good time. “I want to party” is probably the most on the nose example of that. 

Exactly and that is also one of the core values of Quirk; we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We just want to make fun, engaging music. Bringing these vocals in like that song, is part of it.

I’ve found there are often vocals in your music and adds to that sense of engagement. What do you look for in vocals when you add them to your music?

A lot of the vocals are my own recorded music. It brings a lot of freedom, in terms of the vibe or what I want to say, literally. I am also a huge fan of samples, when it comes to bringing in a vocal sample, it’s random. My sample library is big, but usually it’s about playing around and finding something that suits the sonic landscape of the track. I feel like the meaning almost always follows the act, and drives the direction of the track. 

When you  are using your own vocals is there usually a theme to the lyrics or is it all in the spur of the moment?

It’s often a combination. If I have a loop that I’m working on I might start writing things down on a piece of paper. I don’t have a strict formula. The ”I want to party” track for instance was on the spur of the moment. It started as a joke. Alex gave me the microphone and we were both hungover and the energy was a bit low. Alex was rolling his eyes, but also laughing. So I made a build out of it and played it back to Alex. 

Yes, you do convey that sense of having a good time, not just with that song but others too. We talked mostly about working with Alex at this point, but this year you brought out your first record of original material for Det Gode Selskab too. 

Yes, this was the first track I released on my own. I already had a few tracks on the digital compilation with Det Gode Selskab, but for the time being I only have one solo record out.  It came out on the 17th of May by accident. 

Did working with Alexander influence anything in your own music?

Yes, absolutely. It’s hard to say exactly what, but this aspect of jamming around, playing things on a keyboard, and finding a groove rather than programming things. I love to sit with a mouse and click things in, it’s a super fun process and I will continue to do it, but I will also incorporate some live jamming. It adds a little bit of soul. 

Alexander also introduced you to Bikini Wax, I believe. And now you work there?

Yes. I’m on my way there in an hour actually. It’s such a cosy atmosphere which I really enjoy. I was a long time customer for a long time and to be surrounded by records all day, and getting to learn new stuff about the history is such a privilege. 

What kind of influence has that had on your DJing?

It definitely has affected  the way that I look for new music. I’m listening to new music all day, so I’m trying to think long term in terms of which records I buy and also how they fit in my collection. 

Are you a little more hesitant because of the prices of records these days?

Of course. It’s not only that though it ‘s also about space. There are always records on the floor these days. 

 

Why we Dance with Hilit Kolet

We caught up with Hilit Kolet from Shanghai to talk about her musical history as she prepares to make the journey to Jaeger’s sauna again.

Hilit Kolet is a rarefied talent for these times. She has all the credentials: A job at an iconic record store; a classically trained background; legitimate studio experience; a knack for crafting dance floor cuts; and a sincere appreciation for the music above all else. She’s been celebrated by the radio jocks; lauded by her peers; played in some of the most influential spots; and remixed some of the best there is, yet her approach comes from a unique sincerity that is at odds with current trends. 

Her musical output is considered and her style as a DJ bristles with that eclectic attitude that only a record store employee has. She’s already established a reputation as a DJ’s DJ, built on the foundation of an avid music collector and enthusiast, born from her days behind the counter at London’s Black Market Records. Hers is a diverse collection of musical touchstones, coalescing around the expansive House and Techno music universe and when it comes to a dance floor, there are few who know it better.

Her breakout single “Techno Disco” via Defected topped all kinds of charts with successive releases only re-affirming her abilities and her sonic diversity. She’s remixed and been remixed by the likes of Terry Farley and Mike Dunn and her edits, like that of  Laurient Garnier’s “Crispy Bacon,” lives in infamy alongside its predecessors. 

While the piano provided the springboard for her musical education it’s the records that have provided the most significant impetus for Hilit’s musical adventures and as such there is only one place she appears most at home; the DJ booth. 

Last year, we had the pleasure of meeting Hilit for the first time and after a session for Øya Natt, we’re pleased to have the UK DJ and producer back  at Jaeger. Hilit Kolet arrives on the Sunkissed ticket this Saturday and we took the opportunity to probe the DJ and artist more about her interesting background and some of what is on the horizon for the artist. We find her  in Shanghai on the eve of the release of her remix of Why We Dance for Terry Farley & Wade Teo

Hello Hilit. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Tell us where you are at the moment and what you’re listening to? 

Hey, nice to meet you too. I’m currently in my hotel room in Shanghai having played last night. I’m listening to a new remix I’ve been working on, which is coming out early 2024, and also to a new beat I’ve started on the plane. It’s slightly different to what I’ve been making lately and I’m thinking it could make a nice collab with a vocalist I’ve been chatting to. Or I might just delete it and start a new idea, dunno.

I read that you were still doing piano recitals by the time you started getting into electronic music and DJing. What was the main catalyst in terms of artists, tracks,  albums or genres as you switched over?

Yes that’s right. My mum was working as a piano teacher all through my childhood, she was teaching children on our beautiful grand piano, which took up most of the sitting room… I spent all my afternoons on the sofa watching the lessons, and when I was about five, I started becoming somewhat of a disturbance, telling students to ‘go home because it’s my turn to play the piano with mummy now’ hehe. I ended up training at the local conservatoire, doing the full thing, 4 times per week, including recitals and playing with the orchestra and all. I discovered electronic music at around 12 or 13 years old, back then I was listening to early Kenny Dope, Cajmere, Marshal Jefferson, Deee-Lite, Xpress 2, Yello, Steve Pointdexter, Leftfield – Leftism, Laurent Garnier, Robert Hood, Todd Terry’s sax album, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk – Homework, Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo, Basement Jaxx, a real mix. 

It took me a few years to completely ‘cross over’ but at one point I did. Classical music was a great way of processing pain and challenging emotions, but it was mostly about a heavier spectrum of feelings. Now, I discovered that music was also a way to express joy and passion and excitement, and it was really refreshing and somewhat liberating too.

How does that early musical education influence what you do today and what was the main challenge in going from traditional musical training to electronic music intended for the club? 

That’s always been an interesting subject for me, because I think that in many ways, having had a traditional, classical music background was counter-productive when I first started experimenting with music production. With DJing it was very helpful for sure – all those music theory and music literature lessons I took as a kid have trained my ears really well, and it made mixing intuitive and easy, but producing my own music felt different: it was too ‘sacred’ almost. 

It took me a while to work out that this was a direct repercussion of the strict Eastern-Europe mindset they had at my conservatoire: sheet music only, Chopin, Debussy, Schubert, Beethoven, memorising your chords, learn 26 pages all by heart. The teacher nearly fainted when I asked if I could try some jazz or improvise a little for a change…

And of course, producing music, especially electronic music, takes a lot of improvising and a ton of letting go – of music theory and of all other “rules” too. I do feel like I’ve come out the other end though. I’ve taught myself to give in to “happy accidents” as oftentimes they make the best bits. Plus, life is messy anyway right, so art should only follow suit.

You spent some time working at Black Market too. Besides being surrounded by that kind of music all day, what did you take away from that experience?  

Working in the shop exposed me to musical scenes that were not on my radar at all, like dubstep and drum & bass – two genres the shop played a pivotal part in nurturing – and while they’re still not my go to’s, looking back it was certainly nourishing for my overall musical diet, and it was also a good exercise in keeping an open mind musically. I do think that as a DJ and a selector, it’s important to develop a sonic identity, or a ‘sound’, but it’s also important to remain curious musically and to try and break out of your own echo-chamber.

How has your taste evolved during and after your stint there and are there any records from that time you refuse to ever part with? 

Well I was working there over a long period of time, 7-8 years, so ultimately my taste would have changed a lot during that phase anyway, but one thing I do know is that my understanding, my ability to map the underground dance music landscape, labels, artists, scenes and how they brewed, was nothing comparable before and after. Records from my time at the shop that I will never part with – there’s so many as I’m not parting with any of my records hehe, but here are a few: Mr. G – Space Bassed, Cassius – Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes (Radio Slave Remix), Rolando – The Afterlife, Theo Parrish – Falling Up (Carl Craig Remix), Alden Tyrell – Touch the Sky (which actually features MD on the vocals), John Tejada – Now We’re Here on Kompakt, Luke Solomon – Space Invaders (Andomat 3000 Remix) on Rekids, Jon Cutler feat. E-man-  It’s Yours and so many others.

Were you DJing before Black Market? 

Not really, not professionally anyway. I was always collecting records and I was really into radio. I was 12 when I decided I was going to be a radio DJ and a music journalist, mainly so that I could get my hands on promo copies, and later on because I wanted to help others discover the music that I felt (and still feel, most of the time) was saving my life. So that’s what I did, while exploring and studying both electronic music and clubbing as cultures. It was very obvious that it was my ‘thing’ in life, but for some reason DJing in clubs was never something I had on my list. 

It was only when offers to DJ came in while I was working at Black Market that I thought, “well maybe I should give it a try, after all, I always go out hoping to hear the records I discovered this week, I always think to myself, mmm I would play this record with that record…”. Literally everyone around me was like – “thank you! Finally!” and I felt really odd and a little silly that it made so much sense to them, but never even crossed my own mind.

What was it about DJing that first intrigued you and what does it mean for you in terms of a creative outlet that you wouldn’t necessarily get from producing and/or playing the piano? 

It’s an obsession. If I’m into a track, I have to hear it again and again, and the only way to get it out of my system is to listen to it on a really big rig, a few times, and dance to it…. Ha. I think it’s the same for most DJs? I can only guess. I’m limited doing that at home (even my daughter tells me off!) so it’s kind of a necessity.

DJing has always been this fleeting thing, subject to contemporary tastes and impulses. What remains sonically consistent in your DJ mixes for you? 

Lately I find that I need equal measures of groove and drive in a track for me to get into it. I can’t have all groove or all drive. A funk injection is good, also a touch of sex appeal. I also like my music raw, or with a raw feeling if you know what I mean. Yes I go through a lottttttt of tracks before I find something I dig.

I believe you have some experience working in a studio too. Is there something to working in that environment that changes the way you approach the creative aspects of making music? 

Yes, I owned a high-end recording studio with my ex-husband for nearly a decade and that’s where I also picked up production. It was stuff of the dreams, a 64-channel Neve desk, one of the largest synth libraries in the world, all of the plugins you can possibly think up, same for sample libraries, and it was so much fun, but it was also really distractive.

These days I’m mostly in the box in my smallish but cuteish home studio, with the odd 909 or SH-101 thrown in, but I get ideas down much quicker this way – and isn’t music mostly about ideas – as is all art? 

I mean, you can’t make a bad idea better just by using the latest plugin, and it’s also not about the number of analogue synths you’ve invested an arm in, or how many channels you crammed your project with… It’s about having a vision and a certain feeling you want to put across, or at least that’s how I see it.

Your next record, ‘Hot Mess’ will be coming out next year and I had the pleasure of hearing the tracks. What were some of the ideas behind that record, and how it came together on Rekids?

Oh you have, I’m glad to hear this. The starting point for ‘Hot Mess’ was the decision not to use any loops, so it’s a 100% programmed drum machine werqqqout. I made the first version of the track on a pretty intense day and I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be great if I somehow managed to capture how I was feeling at that point AND get rid of it at the same time… Very quickly I had this relentless groove going, and I then felt it needed a raw, emotional vocal to give it contrast. It took quite a few versions before it was finished. I was working with the vocalist remotely over a few sessions and playing about with arrangement and mixdowns quite a bit because I’m a bloody annoying perfectionist, but I think it was worth it. When Matt Edwards said he wanted it for Rekids I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been following Rekids since day one and absolutely adore everything they do.

And Mike Dunn is on the remixes and brought some of that Chicago flavour to it.  What’s your relationship with Mike and what were your first impressions of the remix?

I met Mike at a festival in Croatia a couple of years ago. I think by now you’ve probably realised I’m a massive Chicago house fan and of course, I’ve been collecting and playing Mike’s music forever, so to have him remix my music is simply incredible. I love the deep groove spin he put on ‘Hot Mess’, it’s so different to my original and I think that’s exactly what makes a remix interesting.

I guess edits and remixes like this next one for Terry Farley and that infamous Laurient Garnier edit keeps you busy too. How do you usually approach these tracks, especially when you’re handling a legend like Terry Farley’s work?

Edits and remixes are two very different creatures as far as I’m concerned. I’ve done quite a few edits over the past couple of years of ‘classic bangers’ (as I like to call them) that I wanted to play out but felt needed an updated finish, both in terms of sound as well as arrangement. I’d try and pay respect to the original while put a little spin on it, but mostly I’d just aim to make a modern version of the original that sits well within my DJ sets. That’s what I tried to do with Laurent Garnier’s techno anthem ‘Crispy Bacon’; Laurent loved it and played it and so did Carl Cox, Patrick Topping and others. It still amazes me that Laurent then decided to release it on his new album’s limited edition boxset… What an honour. 

When it comes to remixes, I think they could potentially hold more room for creative freedom, so that a release package offers the remix as a different flavour to the original. With those, I would try to find a hook or a few hooks that really clicks with me, sometimes use another distinctive sound off the original, and mostly have my own drums and sounds on top. That’s what I’ve done with my remix of Terry Farley & Wade Teo’s track, which is out this weekend on Rekids. And yes Terry is a total legend and a bit of house dad and mentor to me, which I’m super grateful for.

A lot of energy in that one. I assume playing a track you’ve made out is never too far from your mind when producing music?

Absolutely, I first and foremost produce music I want to be playing in my own sets, it’s how I got started with producing. 

There are a few of your contemporaries that have capitulated to the 3 min track to appease the Spotify algorithm, but both this remix and Hot Mess are well over 5 min. What are your thoughts on dance music producers following that trend and where do you draw the line in your own music in terms of appeasing an audience?

The 3 minute edit is usually an additional version a label would ask the producer to cut, with radio and streaming in mind. It’s something I can understand from a business point of view but having to butcher an arrangement you’ve tweaked again and again for the dancefloor is far from fun… Which is why it’s a relief that labels like Rekids don’t ask for these versions.

You’ve said in the past it’s all about the crowd and the night for you. This will be your second visit to Jaeger. Any idea how this night will go?

I’m looking forward to it so much! I absolutely loved visiting and playing Jaeger last year, I was so impressed with everything about it, from the amazing system to the acoustic treatment of the room to the oak smell to the double-headed mixer to the crowd and of course with Ola and the team. This time I’m back with a ton of new music I’ve made over the past few months, including a couple of brand new tracks I’ve not played out at all yet, so I can’t wait.

And lastly, can you play us out with a song to set the mood? 

Of course, here’s my new remix of Terry Farley & Wade Teo feat. Kameelah Waheed ‘Why We Dance’, which is out on Rekids this weekend:

 

Hilit Kolet is on Instagram and Spotify

A new House with Casablanca 303

We meet up with Oslo’s newest musical arrival and Badabing artist, Casablanca 303 to talk bout his musical history and more in a Q&A.

Alejandro aka Casablanca 303 is really settling into his life in Norway. “I really like the music and the nature,” says the Colombian artist over a coffee in Gamlebyen. We’re walking distance from his home, where he also has his studio, and he talks in excited terms about the artistic and “bohemian” community that thrives there. 

While little is known of his career outside of Norway to us, Casablanca 303 comes from an established background as a DJ in South America, and has been making waves in Bergen and Oslo since relocating here with his Norwegian partner in 2018. It was in Bergen he first got his “foot in the scene, assisting at concerts, parties and even raves.”  

There he found a welcoming community, none more than with the Mhost likely crew, who operate their labels and event series out of the city. It was with them he would release Perspectives, his first record in Norway, before moving onto Oslo and finding a new home for his music through Vinny Villbass’ Badabing Diskos imprint. 

That EP, Lucid Dream / Estereograma established the name Casablanca 303 in Oslo too and as he prepares for his first live show since the release at Jaeger, we caught up with the artist and DJ to talk about his music history and more. 

What was your involvement in music before moving to Norway? 

Back in the days I was working as a tour manager for a festival in Colombia for some international artists and that gave me some connection to the US. I played some clubs in Miami and also met some producers. But I was in that moment, still defining my sound and what I really liked. 

Miami really? There is an incredible underground electronic music scene that we still revere with the likes of Miami bass. What was your experience of the city?

Miami has a lot of layers. If you land in South Beach, you get the commercial, overcrowded pop scene. You have other things that also happen in the city; underground stuff in terms of art and music Miami has other sounds. Every city has these mass-consumption parts and then other more bohemian / hipster parts that are more open to underground sounds visuals. 

What was Colombia like; is there a healthy underground electronic music scene there?

Yes, Colombia has a lot of everything. You have a lot of layers of music. There are those artists that want to explore more of the caribbean- or roots music of Colombia and transform it into electronic music. There are two artists that I know that have played at Jaeger actually, and they are into that thing. Mítu is one Colombian band and they employ some afro rhythms and vibes with an underground electronic music. I couldn’t call it House music or anything like that. It’s just electronic music and it works. We also have artists like Felipe Gordon, who are killing it internationally. He’s younger than me and it’s so cool to see him blooming. 

How did you make the transition from being a tour manager and working in the scene to making your own music and releasing records?

Much before I was a tour manager and working at festivals, I was Djing and gigging. I was playing all over Colombia and the Caribbean. I also played in nearby countries like Ecuador and Peru.  

Would you say you were a successful DJ back home?

Yeah, back in the days. It’s easy when you have some of your friends own the best clubs. I was playing regularly. I’ve been DJing since 2010 more-or-less.

That must have been quite an adjustment, being at that level and then playing for what I can only assume is much smaller audiences and a smaller scene.

Since moving to Norway, I’ve been playing some. Mhost Likely in Bergen got me some gigs, and here in Oslo I have found some collectives in my niche, mainly House music, Disco and balearic; sub-genres of House- and electronic music. I don’t play as often, but I’ve started  transitioning from Djing to being a live performer. That’s my main goal, I just want to play my own music. 

Do you find it more fun than Djing?

In some way, yes. I really like to play instruments. I am  a former guitar player, and I’ve been playing since I was 11. Even though I don’t play the guitar much in my productions, my music starts from the guitar, and then I translate it to synthesisers and music software. My music is all about improvising, and that’s what my live performance is all about; it’s my music and then I do some extra things on top of it. 

I was going to ask about the guitar, because I noticed the guitar in your music, and I could tell there’s some background in playing in bands from what I heard. Is that the first thing you did in music?

Yes, when I was 17 and 18 I played in a Death Metal band. I’ve never been a radical person when it comes to genres, so when I wasn’t playing in the band I was playing Rock n Roll or Jazz. The same has happened in electronic music. I focus on certain things, but I’m really open to genres. Even pop music, good pop music isn’t bad.

How did you get into electronic music from there? 

I think metal had something to do with that. There were some Scandinavian bands that were transitioning from certain sounds of death Metal into more industrial territory, incorporating beats. I started liking the synthesisers they were playing and realised it was danceable. 

What was your first engagement with pure electronic music, like House or Techno?

I think it was when Groove Armada played in Bogotá. I was at the beginning of university, around 2006 and there were a lot of electronic music artists coming to Bogotá. Another artist that came over was Armin Van Buuren. We have something similar Russefeiring – when you celebrate the end of school – and some promoters take a chance to bring some big artists and promote some parties. 

From DJing did you take some time to develop your own music before you started releasing music?

While I was DJing, I had already  started producing, because I had some experience with the bands I was in. I was also finalising my education, so I didn’t have much time to produce my own music. At first it was all in the computer, but then I started getting some analogue gear, because I wanted to just plug it in and record the synthesiser, like we would with metal. It took me a while, but I would say that I only started recording electronic music, a little before moving to Norway. 

Was Visions your first record?

Yes, but before that I made a cover version of a popular Colombian artist. At that time I was captivated by Deep House and its melancholic sound. 

Yes, it reminds me of something that might have appeared on Life and Death or a Stephen Bodzin record. I noticed however that by the time we get to the Perspectives EP on Mhost likely, there’s a change in your sound. Would you agree?

Yes, definitely. It’s also the transition of me moving to Norway. 

Ok, was it a direct influence of moving here? I thought I might have heard some Scandinavian Disco influences in there, but I didn’t want to be presumptuous. 

Yes, I started to dig more into Disco and House music. I wanted to experiment a little and I was influenced by what was known of Norwegian music in South America which was Space Disco. Even though I don’t do Space Disco, I take some elements from Space Disco, from artists like Prins Thomas, Todd Terje and Bjørn Torske. I really like their eclectic style. 

And this was around the same time you started working more with hardware?

Yes. There is one piece of gear I’ve always wanted, and that’s the Moog Voyager synthesiser. I bought it here  in Norway second hand and that was one of the best days of my life.  The guy that sold it to me lives in Årdal which is close to Sogndalfjøra. It was so cool driving through that nature to go and buy this synthesiser. This synth, whenever I’m blocked creatively, I stop producing and just tweak this thing and suddenly  a sound would emerge. That happened with my last EP (Lucid dream / Estereograma) for Badabing. 

Besides the synth, were there any ideas that laid the foundation for that record?

I’m trying to produce this House music sound, but trying to give it personal space. I don’t consider myself a pioneer,  I just take the things that I like and mix it up and turn it out. 

Are there any artists or influences that you aspire to when you put these things together as you say?

Absolutely. I used to like what KiNK was doing before. He is really good, because he captures a lot of genres that I like, from piano House, jazzy House, a little bit of Techno and breakbeats. It’s insane, he can play whatever he wants. He mixes his knowledge of music to play and perform and that’s something that inspires me. Also my friend Felipe Gordon; he is another person that performs his instruments and that’s what you hear in his music.

 

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Talking about performing your instruments, is that how you usually start your composition process with a piano line?

I usually start with a groove, like everybody else. I start with some percussion and then I take the synthesiser or guitar and provide some bass-lines. I also like to play with samples and manipulate them to create strange melodies. In that EP for Mhost Likely, I re-sampled myself and reversed some loops and created some foundations and textures. 

You’re playing live at Jaeger. Will that be your live debut in Oslo?

I tested it out at Musikkfest this year, for Olle Abstract at Dattera til Hagen. He was the first person I met of the legends here from Oslo. He was so welcoming and he played my tracks in his monthly podcast. That pushed me, and sometimes you need that. 

 

2 years of Flux: A Q&A with the Flux collective (Part 2)

Part two of our roundtable conversation with the Flux Collective talking about and looking toward the future of the scene ahead of their event this Friday.

In a mere 2 years, Flux Collective has established a profile in Oslo’s club community that rivals even some of the most established Techno concepts around. Going from the forests in summer to the clubs in winter, they’ve garnered a dedicated following in Oslo’s clubbing community, which is starting to reach tendrils in the rest of Europe carried on the wings of the label.

Aside from their own solo efforts as DJs, artists and live performers, each member of the collective takes on specific roles within the organisation, which runs more like an enterprise than a community. It culminates in a multi-layered approach that covers each aspect of club culture and is currently looking towards new avenues that will take them into more abstract regions. 

Last week, we talked to them about their origins, their thoughts on the Techno scene and more. In part 2 of our extensive Q&A we cover the future possibilities of the collective; their move from Oslo’s forests to the clubs; and how a pandemic opened up the floodgates for this new scene.  They’ll be releasing Metamorphosis n this week to celebrate 2 years of Flux, with a dedicated event in our basement to mark the occasion. 

Mischa Mathys: Andrea, you mentioned something earlier about the explosion of Techno. That concurs because what people were calling Techno here was essentially Tech House in my opinion and then suddenly there was this huge demand. Before that there was maybe Void and a few very niche DIY concepts doing this kind of sound, but then suddenly exploded. What do you guys think was the catalyst for that in Norway?

Andrea (Anémi): I just think that Norway has been hanging behind. Techno was a new thing for many and people were excited about it because the scene has been made mainly around minimal, or Tech House. The new kind of sounds that arose really had younger people talking about it. 

During the pandemic everybody was feeling suppressed. A lot of young people, especially the people who hadn’t been able to go out in the clubs, even though they had come of age, had been angry and disconnected. I feel that’s why Techno flourished, because it’s these people playing underground music and making home raves or home parties.

Henrik (Skodde): Because so many new people were discovering underground music and just calling it Techno. I was playing every favourite I had as a child. So we can play Techno, Hard Trance, and Trance. Nobody cares but everybody cares, because people are very accepting. Not right now, but at the beginning.

Andreas (Skodde): One thing that’s really cool about the Oslo Techno scene right now – and we have a lot of communication from outside of Norway–  the scene is different because if you host a party in Berlin, it’s only one sound the whole night. In Oslo you can get Breakbeat, hard Techno, Psytrance, Ghettotech; you can get everything in one night. The Oslo scene is completely different from anywhere else in the world right now, because of the forest raves. A  lot of the DJ’s don’t even know about these big artists, they just know what’s going on in Oslo.

David (Bjerregaard): I have an idea and it has to do with politics. If we look at the rest of Europe, especially central Europe, Norway is very conservative when it comes to partying. We have a lot of rules and we have very strict rules regarding drugs as well. For a long time Techno and the whole scene was frowned upon by clubs because they didn’t really dare host these kinds of parties; because they would get a lot of pressure from authorities. 

Mischa: Yes I remember a stint here at Jaeger where we couldn’t even promote a night as a Techno night. 

David: But I’d say that in the last five to ten years the cops are also much more lenient. It’s more liberalised with taks of legalisation and so on. So that combined with the covid shutdown, reset the attitude to a lot of people who run the clubs. They saw there’s a huge demand for this kind of music, so it became a renaissance for this music.

Gaute (Naboklage): But why is there such a demand for this music? 

David: Well, there was always a demand. It was gate kept and then it was shut down for a year and a half. And then after that, they were like, “okay, let’s give it a shot” because they kind of forgot how it was. I had never been to a Techno party in Oslo before covid. I’m sure they existed but to me it was completely unknown.

Gaute: People keep telling me that we had parties before. I never saw it. People would say, don’t think you’re doing anything new. 

Mischa: People in your age group?

Gaute: No older people and they’re like, “oh you think you guys are doing something new we had parties before.” You probably did, but not at the same scale. They didn’t have 500 people. 

 

Skodde the young people, who were not used to clubs, were so free at the raves and suddenly they came into the club and if you were dancing too hard or had your shirt off someone would tell you, you can’t do that.

 

Andreas: Henrik and I have been in the Techno scene for 10 years. We were in a friend group where everyone listened to Techno before covid. We went to Berlin, we went to Amsterdam, we did all these things because there was nothing happening here…  And when there was nothing else happening, the forest raves happened. The people came to the forest and did the thing. There’s a reason why people like Techno and listen to it and when you go to a Techno party a certain amount of time because that’s the only place you can meet friends, of course you’re going to enjoy it. 

Gaute: A lot of people who hadn’t gone to Techno things before, went to it and they were exposed to something new. For Norwegian people if there’s something that’s a little bit different their default thing is just to be like, “no, this is weird.” But because of this lockdown, people allowed themselves to be more open-minded and then at some point it became trendy.

Henrik: Because the raves were the only opportunity to go to a party, people actually got to experience or rave music, in the way it’s supposed to be listened to, not through a set of headphones.

Gaute: At the same time if a 20 something kid and his friend just throws a party, they really can play whatever they want, but if you play a DJ gig at a club, there’s a lot more expectation.  There’s this very rigid structure for what you do and what you play in this time slot and if you fuck up, there are no more club gigs. 

So you have this incentive to conform to whatever they’re already doing at a club. Whereas if you’re just throwing a party with a friend for fun during covid, then you’re like “ok fuck it, let’s just play whatever.” You can play for as long as you want, and you can do whatever you want. This allows people to experiment and do a lot of fun stuff that never would have happened in a club and this kind of opened Pandora’s box.

Everybody groans in agreement. 

Mischa: Going from the raves to the clubs as a concept, what have been some of the biggest challenges?

Gaute: The crowd is really different.

Andreas:  It’s really the bouncers.

Gaute: Also the opening times. It’s so hard with the people arriving at the club, a bit before 1am and then they leave around 2am. Maybe they stay until three. You have two and a half hours, whereas for a rave you have eight hours of curated music. 

Andreas: Also our crowd doesn’t like clubs actually. That’s the hardest part because the young people, who were not used to clubs, were so free at the raves and suddenly they came into the club and if you were dancing too hard or had your shirt off someone would tell you, you can’t do that.

Mischa: So getting your people to the club is not going to be easy, right, so, how do you motivate them? 

Gaute: There are limits to what we can do, but we do what we can with what we have. Something I’m really upset about is that Norwegian music events are all funded through alcohol sales. If your music isn’t inclined to sell alcohol then it’s a lot more difficult to do events at nightclubs.

Andreas: That’s actually why we’ve moved more and more towards Jaeger and ditched a lot of the other clubs. I really like the vision of Ola because he’s really into the music. 

Mischa: You guys are still doing the raves on top of this, so why do the clubs at all. 

Gaute: The logistics are extreme; It’s like doing a 30 hour shift.

David: It’s weather dependent… Because you can’t do it in winter. And it becomes a little watered down if you do it every two weeks in the summer. There’s no way we’re able to do it anyway. 

Gaute: … and there’s the police and there’s a bunch of idiots doing drugs. If you have 150 people, close people that you know can behave, then it’s fine. But once it’s 500 to 1000 people, then the odds of one person doing something stupid is quite high. It’s really frustrating because if we were allowed to set up the infrastructure to do it in a responsible way, then we would. We have to keep everything super low key. If we ideally could communicate with the police and maybe an ambulance or something, but you can’t do that because then they’ll just shut you down. 

Andreas: We also want to do things as legal as possible. 

Gaute: Because we want to run a label and we want to live off of music and then you can’t just do illegal shit.

Mischa: Is that something that could still be realistically achieved in the current music climate, living off music, especially as a collective?

Andrea: I think it has to be a combination of different things. We have some interesting ideas on how we want to go forward with Flux. The label has been doing well but it will take some years to get it all around.

David: And the parties fund the label basically. 

Gaute: We do a lot of stuff for free if not everything. 

Andreas: We only got 3000 NOK each this year. You can’t bet everything on one horse. You need to do several things and that was our vision from the start.  

David: We basically don’t take out any fees from our own parties and we spend everything to either make better parties or to book artists, to build our network of connections. For instance, we took some of the people that we had here (Jaeger) this summer, to the forests. Then the rest goes into the label. 

Mischa: So, you are trying to start a community outside Norway as well?

Gaute: We want to export the Oslo scene to the world. 

Andrea: And it’s happened naturally because of the label; the people whose music we released, are the people we’ve been talking to and invited to our parties. 

Gaute: They’ve played our stuff at the famous German club. 

Mischa: How do you find out the artists that land on the label, especially outside of the collective. 

Andrea: You just have to be a big nerd. I just have a radar and pick up on what’s around. 

Mischa: Do you specifically look for anything in terms of a sound, and do they have to represent something like a Flux sound for you?

Andrea: I have some plans for the next few releases. We actually have been releasing quite a lot for just being able for two years and we have released a lot of Oslo-based artists, because we wanted to support local artists. From that our sound has just been growing, but we are going to have fewer releases and more curated releases. 

So we are putting more effort in the production. At the start, it was more like, “oh, I like you, you should release on our label.” Haha. This was so cool though and I am happy for all the releases we have had with all these amazing people. We have evolved a lot since then though and I am excited to work on new curated releases. We have a lot of attention in Europe actually and all around the world, which is really cool, being a small label.

Anemi We want to take people through a journey, also on a deeper level.

Mischa: Is there a confluence between the artists on the labels and the ones you book for the events? 

Andrea: Hmm, we have booked artists we wanted to collab with and artists who already have released music with us, but it doesn’t always have to be an agenda with them. It’s just that we dig their music and their persona somehow. 

And originally we were going to do a lot more art, but it’s coming next year. We’ll be doing more events focused on visual- and conceptual art. 

Andreas: We want to work with modern art and experimental visual exhibitions with light and sound.

Gaute: An audio visual space for events, where it’s not just blasting music with a strobe, but more like an installation; a whole production. 

Andrea: We want to take people through a journey, also on a deeper level.

Henrik: This is really important to do here in Oslo, because of the short opening hours clubs and we’d like to not just play the night shift every week but build an experience.

Andrea: We’ve just been doing so much, playing every weekend and we have just been growing steadily towards the thing we actually want to do; which is the combination of a lot of things. 

Mischa: Do you think that after the pandemic and after you set your own standard in the scene that there’s a lot more people coming up, copying your formula

Andreas: Yes. I think it’s a compliment 

Gaute: I want people to come to  our parties and be like, “fuck, I could do this better” and then I want  to go to their event and be like “shit, this is better, we have to be better”. If they play the exact same songs and do the exact same thing, that’s pretty lame, but if they do something different but better then that’s amazing. We should inspire each other to improve our own unique things.

Andreas: Because we have the connections with the clubs and the bookings, we have actually helped a lot of the competition getting into the clubs.

Andrea: Flux has always Invited a newcomers and up and coming artists and will continue to.

Henrik: I do feel there are more different collectives and more concepts under the umbrella of Techno music now than there used to be for House music, just three or four years ago. 

Andreas: The scene supports each other much more. Even people I thought didn’t like us, when I get to talk to them, they do and vice versa. The Techno scene in Oslo is really kind of nice to each other and supportive.

2 years of Flux: A Q&A with the Flux collective (Part 1)

In part 1 of a 2 part Q&A session we talk to Flux Collective about Techno’s current trajectory, the creation of the collective and how they arrived at Techno, individually.

It feels like we’re teetering on the precipice of something in Techno. Social media is a constant stream of DJs playing to crowds of thousands when it’s not showing queues outside of some of the world’s leading techno clubs.There are tutorials on YouTube about dressing appropriately for club nights and even mainstream TV shows are making references to Berghain (or “Ber-gain”). 

It’s prevalent, and its popularity has surpassed nearly every other electronic dance music category, but as it continues to reach tendrils into popular-culture, it’s diminishing its underground affiliations in the process. 

As something grown from the subterranean caverns of disused power plants and dystopian motor cities, where musical laymen re-appropriated machines to create futuristic noise, it was always supposed to be a counter culture. Its continued acquisition into mainstream culture however has seen the tawdry side of music business and popular culture eradicating much of those original values and DIY ideologies of the genre. What we’re seeing now is similar to what happened at the turn of the century for Techno, when big rooms and festival stages saw it divided.

Yet again, factions are starting to emerge with one group exploiting its current popularity for their own success while another has turned on its heels, taking the music back to the underground. The Flux Collective consider themselves part of this latter group. 

A collective of producers, artists and DJs, the Flux Collective host events, they release records and they facilitate a community for Techno enthusiasts in Oslo, even when there are no places to host them. Their raves in and around the city’s forests have left their mark on the next generation and alongside the likes of Ute Klubb and Monument they have helped establish the next era for Oslo’s Techno scene. Between the events, their label and the artists involved, their efforts have made a formidable impression in the 2 years they have been around and they keep pushing the boundaries of the music and the scene.  

Together, Andrea, Andreas, Henrik, David and Gaute have been a force in Oslo’s underground since their inception and in a short time they’ve managed to carve out a significant portion of the clubbing community for themselves. Their label continues to go from strength to strength and the latest compilation, Metamorphoses marking their 2 year anniversary will only go to cement their staying power. They are a hard group to pin down as individuals with each bringing their own set of skills and personality traits with them, but as a group they are cohesive (even if they might not always agree with each other.) 

As they arrive at Jaeger to celebrate their birthday next week, we sat down with all five of them to talk about their history, their thoughts on music and the future of Techno. Our conversation was broad and extensive, so we decided to break it up into two parts. Here follows part 1. 

Mischa Mathys: Where do you guys find yourself at the moment with a version of Techno that is going harder faster? 

Henrik Ottersbo (Skodde): From my point of view, I see a lot of similarities to what happened exactly 20 years ago. We had Techno and Trance in the late 90s here in Oslo, and some were moving towards a more commercial; doing the Tiesto thing while others kept to the original progressive Trance and Techno vibes from Tresor. And I feel like we are on the same path right now. 

Mischa: You think it’s going to move underground again?

Andreas Ulstein Granum (Skodde): Yes! 

Henrik: Yeah, I feel our sound is going to be more underground, with the other people going in a more commercial direction. 

Andreas: Hard Techno right now is basically EDM.

Gaute Holen (Naboklage): The biggest Techno DJs, their instagram is just super professional videos of festival drops. It’s so far removed from what we’re doing. 

Andreas: It’s just the same rave stab in every song. (Mimics the sound) It’s the same as EDM basically just at 150 beats per minute. 

Gaute: I think we’re trying to experiment and do different things. As the hard Techno is a lot more popular, I feel like we are bored of hearing everyone play the same everywhere. So we’re just trying to keep it interesting for ourselves by experimenting. Right now it’s more glitchy and weird.

Henrik: …and more groovy…

Andreas: … and not that hard, with more baselines.

Gaute: There’s also Hardgroove, that’s really popular. 

Mischa: Yes that seemed to come out of nowhere and it’s based around the Ben Sims label, but isn’t quite that either.

Gaute: Yeah, exactly, but now it’s taking off and happening in parallel to the Hard Techno thing but it’s fun.

Andreas: She (Andrea) was the first to play Hardgroove in Oslo after covid, right when clubs opened… and now she doesn’t.  

Andrea Emilie Eriksen (Anémi): Haha, yes. I had a phase where I played Hardgroove and other genres as well. I have evolved my sound pretty heavily since I started playing out. It’s a continuous journey where I feel I am finding myself more and more and that reflects on the music I play and vibe with at that moment. Same with Flux. We are not following any rules.

Mischa: We’ve been using the term Techno, but in the context of Flux, it seems like it’s more of an umbrella term, for what is essentially machine music made for dancing. And anything from Breaks to Ambient can fall under that umbrella for you.

Andreas: Other people are labelling us as Techno, but we’re always trying to say we’re an electronic music record company. If something is in a state of Flux, it is constantly changing. That’s our core – We always want to develop and not be labelled as any one thing. 

Mischa: So put a name to it.

Andreas: Electronic underground music. 

Andrea: Experimental electronic underground music, maybe.

Mischa: And if you were to describe the sound of this to a layman?

Henrik: Weird, groovy, witchy, experimental, industrial.

David Bjerregaard Madsen: Not that industrial. 

Everyone shouts out in protest.

Andrea – We are open for new artists and new sounds and you don’t have to be Techno, just be something that is unique or something that is really good. 

Andreas: You (Henrik) think industrial is the thing that you think of Tresor in the 90s, but industrial now is just hard Techno.  

Henrik: Yeah, thank you for the correction, I’m an old man in an old man’s body. (laughs) But yeah, also some psychedelic can fit in there.

David: Psychedelic soundscapes with Techno drops. 

Andreas: I think some commonality in where we’re heading now,  is textures and layering. Almost like a cinematic approach to producing music. 

Andrea: We are open for new artists and new sounds and you don’t have to be Techno, just be something that is unique or something that is really good. 

Gaute: And it shouldn’t be completely new, but something a little bit different from what you heard before. It’s better that it’s different and bad than it being really good, but exactly the same….

Andrea: …boring.

Andreas: For the audience too, it’s boring to just follow trends, and do the same as anyone else. In our production right now, Henrik and I (Skodde) are really into the groovy stuff but we’re still into the raw Techno that we came from. It’s much cooler to sound like nothing you heard before then like just ripping off everyone else. 

Mischa: Henrik, you were talking about being around for that period in the early 2000’s when Techno turned to the underground again, and I believe Andreas called you a boomer at some point. Are you the elder statesman of the group?

Henrik: We’re the same age. I grew up with a mother and father listening to Trance music. And also a friend of mine introduced me to a record called ravermeister. It’s a compilation with Trance, Trance-Techno, Hard Trance, everything from 1995. When we started listening to this record, we were four years old so by the time I was seven I wanted to become a DJ. 

I started to produce music before DJing, because Djing at that time was a lot more difficult to get into. It was all vinyl, and giving two record players and a mixer to a seven year old was too expensive. 

Mischa: Is that the case for all of you, did you all get stuck into this free from a young age?

David: For me at least. I’ve always listened to electronic music, maybe not as long as Henrik, but since my mid teens. But DJing, I only got into it four years ago, because I thought it looked cool…

Everybody laughs

… and then I just bought some equipment. I actually enjoyed it more than I enjoyed looking cool. I also had never been to any raves. Right after getting into this, I organised raves with my friend. This was right when covid happened and as it happened, we were like, “oh well, everything is closed, so we might as well put a rave together.” I did that for two years and then I got in touch with Andreas, who I knew from high school.

Andreas: We’ve known each other since 2008 or something. He was my friend’s little brother’s friend. He was just a guy I picked on.

Mischa: Andreas, you were doing raves by the time David reached out to you?

Andreas: I was doing a lot of music stuff. I organised Hip Hop parties, House parties, a lot of stuff. I started off with black metal actually. I really really like metal, that’s the thing I listen to the most.

Mischa: Andrea how did you get involved with Flux, amongst all this testosterone?

Andrea:  Haha. I try to break it up with some feminine energies. We (Andreas) met here (Jaeger) actually, seven years ago, on the dance floor. 

Andreas had already played out for a while and was a bedroom producer then. He teached me how to mix and that just became our hobby at home.To Mix and listen to music. We started Flux Collective in the pandemic and we did some raves together the summer of 2021 which kind of just escalated. We also did one with David who also was doing his own raves. Same with Gaute; everybody was just doing the thing out in the forest. We had no plan with ending up here you know, it just happened as we went on doing the stuff we loved and just followed our hearts. Flux first started out as a rave-series, then a label and club-series shortly after closer to the fall/winter of 2021.

Mischa: So the idea for the label has been there from the beginning?

Andrea: Our first release was 2 or 3 months after we started out. It was Skodde’s first release. 

Mischa: What were you doing before Flux, Henrik?

Henrik: I used to play at Villa, as Good Mood with a friend of mine. We worked together for five years and at some point I wanted to do more Techno and he wanted to do more House.

Naboklage – And then all the people who were organising raves met by showing up to each other’s things. 

Mischa: Gaute that sounds similar to your story. You were in Toalettkollektivet (which had a residency at Jaeger), which was doing House music originally, and then both you and Leo (foufou malade) moved over to the darkside. 

Gaute: Yes, we had a bunch of events here. At some point I said; ”right now, I don’t listen to any House music, I don’t want to play house music anymore.”  And then Leo and I started something called Tempo instead, which was the polar opposite of what Toalettkollektivet was; No rules, do whatever you want, just like back in the old days before they invented all these sub genres and it was like; “let’s go to a rave and there will be music.”

Mischa: This was before Flux?

Gaute: Yes, and originally the first Tempo event was supposed to happen before Flux was a thing, but ended up happening around the same time as when I released a record with Flux due to restrictions coming back. The second Flux release was my release. I joined as an artist, but I helped out with a bunch of stuff too.

Andrea: We were in it together from the start, actually. Attending all of the events together, hanging out. 

Mischa: So was the idea behind Flux to merge all these satellite things you were doing separately?

Gaute: Exactly. 

David: It was Andreas who picked his favourites. 

Gaute: …Stole people from the other crews.

David: It was Andrea who had the idea though. It was August or September 2021, that’s when she made the instagram page. I didn’t really understand what it was all about and then a few months later I got it when I joined officially. 

Andrea: It was just a natural progression, all of us working together. It was just meant to be, you know. (laughs)

Andreas: The thing is Andrea has the ideas and I’m a bit of a doer; I like to get shit done. So when she tells me she wants to do something, I would have already called everyone I know, we’re starting tomorrow and she’s like; “that wasn’t what I said.”

Andrea: Things happened quite fast and the culture was really booming. After the pandemic it was sensational, freeing and magical to hang out in the woods and dance and listen to music. 

Mischa: Stepping into forests as the pandemic shut everything down, was there some competition out there?

Andreas: We actually didn’t know the competition until after covid. 

David: The competition is much bigger now than during the pandemic. This summer has been really heavy and it’s been hard to get people to pull up to your rave because during the pandemic, you go to one or two, if you get to know about them or you don’t go to any at all. Now it’s fucking everywhere.

Gaute: People didn’t really care about who was playing or who was throwing the party. And then all the people who were organising raves met by showing up to each other’s things. 

Mischa: I guess you could avoid stepping on each other’s toes when you know each other. 

Gaute: Exactly. That’s something I feel we’ve been trying to do. For example; Earlier today, some guy messaged me to ask if I was going to do a rave next weekend. We try to coordinate.

Andreas: The communication is really good and we’re like, everyone knows each other. 

Gaute: We help each other, we rent out shit to each other. We lend stuff. It’s super nice. 

 

Premiere: Third Attempt – Hard Times (Part of the Journey)

We get a sneak peak at Hard Times (Part of the Journey), taken from Third Attempt’s upcoming LP, Momentary Bliss

Third Attempt is always busy. If he’s not on the cusp of some future release, he’s playing live. Any down time is given to music, and if he’s not working on his solo efforts, he’s working with the likes of Bugge Wesseltoft and Kristoffer Eikrem towards uncharted territory. He’s release schedule is intense and in the four years we’ve known him, he’s released as many albums.

His latest, Momentary Bliss finds him back at his second home on Beatservice Records with a record that continues to solidify the producer’s sound. Between elements of House, Soul and Jazz, Third Attempt’s music lives in the groove and thrives in the accessible where a vocal sample or melody often extends beyond the dance floor. Hard Times (Part of the Journey), which we get to premiere today, follows the formula expertly.

Synthesisers swell and crash into broken beats as a serene melody ripples through the track, punctuated by intermittent vocal samples that echo the song’s title throughout different phases. Reminiscent of that late nineties early naughts crossover LP’s like Moby Porcelain or Røyksopp’s Melody AM, revamped and updated for this generation.

We talk more about the influences and themes that inform this LP with Third Attempt as we get the first sneak peak at the new LP ahead of his upcoming release event and live show at Jaeger.

Ever since your first release as Third Attempt, you’ve been consistently active, releasing music at an incredible rate, even during the pandemic. Where do you find the creative inspiration to remain that busy? 

Practiced creative expression as a way of life for quite some time. Habits, taking myself more seriously and focusing on evolving as an artist has made everything less restricted. I work on my music in some shape or form pretty much every day.

I guess it’s somewhat apparent that I’ve shifted through a lot of genres. Emphasizing that I will continue to explore. It’s never comfortable or easy for me, but that’s why it never stops being fun either.

Are you simply releasing everything you make or what is your control process for releasing the tracks and albums?

The biggest factor is that I make a lot of music. Control process is that I try to pick out the best of them, trying to steer clear of irrational doubts in the process. Right, healthy amount of trust. But it’s a thin line. A lot of it will never see the light of day.

This is your third or fourth album (if you count the extended EP Dreams in Common). What does it take for an album like Momentary Bliss to come together? 

Fourth or fifth counting Dreams. 

I’ve always been a fan of the album format, even though it’s a bit less relevant now than before. Periods in life I’m spewing out more tracks than usual, often following change or new thought patterns. Getting a lot out of my own storytelling, trying to utilize that as much as possible. Momentary bliss is personal in that sense. 

What were some of the ideas or themes that gave birth to the LP?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am somewhat of a romantic. So this LP is a project centered around my love for many things. Among them is dance music, together with feelings and reflections from a very special time in my life. Renewing my eye for beauty and uplifting expressions. 

It carries that distinctive Third Attempt sound, which moves between elements of Funk, Jazz and House music, but is there anything that went into this LP that was perhaps a little different to your previous releases?

Been listening to a lot of soul, blues, hip hop records. I guess in some way this music is flowing through me. Taking a lot of inspiration out of unknown territories and new angles. Contextualizing more through vocals and dialogue. Also leaning in and tightening my sample approach. 

Why did you choose Hard Times (part of the journey) for the premiere?

Conclusion of the record. Getting the feeling that it’s tying things together.

It reminds me a bit of Moby during his porcelain phase. Were there any direct influences from other artists or albums?

Inspired by all the greats from 90s early 00s. It’s the golden standard imo. Maybe obvious, but Melody AM is a big one, and always will be. 

Tell us a bit about the live show coming up. You’ve played a few times at Jaeger. How will this show be different and what has been the influence of this latest LP beyond the new tracks?

This time I’m playing down in the club, mostly new material plus bonus tracks. Tailored visual material to go with the music, projected. Bringing keys and two launchpads. Downstairs I haven’t done as much. Getting hyped about the sound system. Going to be great!

You’ve also played with Bugge Wesseltoft and Kristoffer Eikrem recently and are also primed to play a chill-out set later in November too. How are these sessions approached and is there something from those shows that feed into your normal shows?

Playing with Bugge and Eikrem was an upper to say the least. It’s out in entirety on Youtube for those who missed it! 

These sessions are much more improvised, slowing things down drastically. Performing music out of my downtempo catalog. Which I still focus on and have a lot of passion for. 

Keywords are more introspective, breathing room. Maintaining the TA sound and approach with visual aspect. I’m always trying to hit a point in between, but these gigs tend to lean more towards listening than dancing. 

If I know you by now, there’s probably more releases already primed. What else is up in the  future for Third Attempt. 

Next year I am setting up a Third Attempt band project! Very excited about that. Release-wise, I’m going to release on Paper Recordings early next year. Have a collab track lined up with Steve Cobby from Fila Brazillia. Doing a downtempo side project utilizing new AI technology and music. Recorded with Bugge Wesseltoft on this one. More on that soon.

Cleaning House with Ivaylo

Ivaylo talks openly about the end of his personal relationship and how Lab Cleaning Jams rose from those ashes as the DJ, producer and label manager embarked on this new phase of his life.

It all came crashing down for Ivaylo Kolev one day in 2023. As  he sat in his car, faced with yet another unsurmountable responsibility on the back of a year of unrelenting upheaval and turmoil, the dam finally burst. The sleepless nights and unceasing worry had nowhere else to go, and manifested in the only way possible as tears welled in his eyes. After his partner and mother to his three children abruptly left him last year, he’s been caring for his three children alone while facing a tumultuous legal battle with his ex-partner, the kind you only see in hallmark movies. 

In the past, Ivaylo could channel those emotions and anguish into music, but this creative outlet had laid dormant during the last year as all his energies focussed on the life-changing situation at hand. “I wasn’t able to make music, mentally,” says the Bulgarian DJ from his home in Asker, Oslo. Sitting in his light and airy dining room, things aren’t exactly looking up yet, but Ivaylo’s disposition is surprisingly upbeat. He has always been nothing but candid face to face, and that stoic personality forged behind an iron curtain and cultivated in the cultural inclusivity of a dance floor, has been nothing but amicable.    

“I still see the connection; That’s what Lab Cleaning Jams is all about, it’s just jams, just music.” 

When it comes to music Ivaylo’s dance card has never been anything but full.  He is a familiar face on Oslo’s DJ circuit, playing almost every weekend and the man behind the Jaeger Mix concept amongst others. He is also Jaeger’s logistics man and the face of the club when it comes to our visiting DJ guests. And when he’s not doing those things, his the label manager for Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp. You might also remember him from his label Bogota records. 

Downstairs in his basement studio in Asker, a few physical copies of the last Bogota release line the shelves. “I give them to friends,” says Ivaylo when I refer to the remnants of the label he has declared defunct. Will he ever revisit that label I ask, knowingly. “No, That boat has sailed;” comes an immediate reply. “Everything is personal for me, how can you work with art and not be personal?” 

Bogota Records is particularly personal and had a specific connection to his ex-partner and as the relationship broke down, he abandoned the project. It’s taken him the better part of the year to come to terms with the end of that era and forge ahead with the next phase of his life, but whatever he is going to do, it won’t include Bogota records. That’s why I’m here, talking to him in the basement studio. He is on the verge of ushering a new epoch in his music and it will be called Lab Cleaning Jams. Named after his monthly mix series, the concept has now turned label and by the time you read this he would have already released the inaugural record in the form of a 3-track digital release, pragmatically titled Jam 1-3. 

Down in his basement studio he plays me a few snippets from this and a few of the future releases. Boblebad has the honour of the next release after Ivaylo and the first track from them he plays is instantly recognisable as Boblebad’s distinctive disco-infused jacuzzi Jazz.  There’s some similarities to Ivaylo’s own productions but by the time he gets to Boblebad’s second contribution; an erratic jittering piece that looks towards some acoustic IDM interpretation, the connection is severed. The contrast is obvious, but Ivaylo disagrees. “I still see the connection; That’s what Lab Cleaning Jams is all about, it’s just jams, just music.” 

Ivaylo skips far ahead into some unfinished pieces from his own catalogue. Immediately there’s a correlation between these pieces and the first two tracks he just put out via Lab Cleaning Jams.They’re all different to anything that has come hitherto from Ivaylo. In the case of the Jam sessions, Ivaylo forgoes the dancefloor-friendly sequenced sounds for some acoustic elements. A cymbal splashes, a double bass rumbles, keys jingle and even a saxophone tweets sweetly in tonally adrift Jazz improvisations. 

For now, most of these tracks are still ”just edits” and while some might take a day to finish others “might be two weeks” away from completion. In one of the most recent creations a reggae vocal sample suddenly appears through a din of upbeat piano and it’s completely unexpected. Where did that sample come from? “I don’t know,” replies Ivaylo. “I have so many samples and I don’t know where they come from.” He’s been amassing a sample library of note since he started making music in 1996 and it can go from his earliest musical indulgences behind a drum kit in various Jazz-fusion bands between Bulgaria and Norway to a year’s worth of sessions recorded in a bachelor-pad-turned-studio back in the early 2000’s. “I literally have everything,” he says through a grin. “The only thing I need to play is melodies.”

After digitising everything back in the day, he only needs to dip into this sample library he’s amassed. Most of the time he’ll only add a bass line or melody and while this is something that has been consistent in his creative process for as long as we’ve known him, there is a subtle difference in the type of samples he’s started using in this new era for his work. 

There’s an organic touch which becomes immediately evident when you listen to Ivaylo’s first outing, Jam 1. The beat skips between conga and hi-hat, while a sine wave punches a hole in the first step of every bar as a kick drum. When a Rhodes piano joins the melée in staccato stabs we’re in Funk and Soul territory and any reference to Ivaylo’s more functional intuitions are laid to rest. “I want to work with musicians, I want to work with real music,” he explains of the ideas behind the new tracks. 

“If you listen to the music from before it’s darker – Now I feel free. ” 

After a long period of being in “a dark place” with the sudden change in his life, he felt that he needed “to listen to live piano and live bass”. It was like starting from scratch, with a new point of focus, coming together around this new label and nudging Ivaylo’s music into a different direction. These new pieces are lighter than anything that came before them, with a spring in the step of the rhythm and a buoyancy in the melodies. He realises that his situation during the period leading up to the eventual turmoil  “kept me in a dark place. I had to run as fast as I could to the light and my light is the music. If you listen to the music from before it’s darker – Now I feel free. ” 

I sense there might be another reason that this music has shifted so dramatically from the kind of tunnel vision-functional demand of club music. As somebody that works behind the scenes in the club scene in Oslo, Ivaylo sees all sides of the DJ booth and what he’s seen in club music over the course of the last year has only dissuaded him from those dance floor inclinations. 

“When it comes to club music, I’m bored. I’m bored of the music because it’s the same, I’m bored with people that make something different just to be different, but end up sounding the same as all the other ‘different’ things.” Ivaylo misses the “art” of making music in a period where everything is dictated by industry and business. “It’s obviously not because of the music, it’s because of the mechanism behind everything” and when everything is so “artificial”  Ivaylo finds it necessary to adopt a more “organic” approach in the music he is making now. 

It’s something that has spilled over into his DJ sets too. “I’ve come to realise I’m not a good DJ…” he says pausing for me to make the obvious argument before he continues; “when I have to play a 2 hour set. You have to create your vibe, and that takes time.” There aren’t many opportunities to do this today especially amongst younger audiences that crave the immediate and perfunctory right from the start and lineups feature a host of DJs packed into a 4 hour lineup in Oslo. Ivaylo “worried about the younger generation,” particularly at a time when “everything is divided” as it is, but he has enough skin in the game and enough years in the DJ booth to bide his time and work through it.

Between the changes in the industry and the changes happening in his personal life, Ivaylo found a life-line in this new label. Where most in his situation, specifically those that work in the club music atmosphere, could have easily sunk deeper into the vices that inherently follow club culture, Ivaylo did the opposite. He’s stopped drinking and smoking after 30 years and spends most of his free time making his own yoghurt and jams while tending to the sprawling garden we look over from his dining room window. 

I’d like to think this is reflected in the new music he is bringing out and he thinks that’s because whatever he does in music and his label he needs to stay “loyal to my personality.” He thinks it’s just about being “honest with the music” and that has afforded him some aspect of freedom a year later.  If Ivaylo’s honesty in music is anything like the candid personality sitting behind the artist, it will certainly shine through Lab Cleaning Jams and the music he is making now. 

Everything for the Groove: A Q&A with Funk for Forest

Funk for Forest do everything for the groove. Born from the lineage of Funk that transcends their collective years at times they channel a music legacy directly to the dance floor today.  The fleeting lineup, which can grow to ten people, comes from a long line of Norwegian live acts who fuse Funk, Soul, Disco and more obscure genres into accessible dance floor cuts. From the upbeat Frank Znort to the futuristic fusion of Flammer Dance Band, Funk for Forest joins an impressive lineage of live dance bands in Oslo’s history.  

Cultivating a sound that skirts the fringes of black American music, but updated and honed to accommodate a dance floor where the DJ reigns supreme, Funk for Forest brings a new dimension to timeless- and future classics. Their references are eclectic and engaging as they create live edits from familiar pieces, channeled through their distinctive musical proclivities. 

Funk for Forest are unique today as they’ve approached their craft solely from the stage. At a time when  bands arrive fully formed with at least one record and a label deal, Funk for Forest have opted for the more traditional route as a live band first. Rumors are abound of some recorded material on its way, and Funk For Forest will undoubtedly soon hit their stride in the recorded format too, but for now they are a live band in every sense of the word. 

We caught up with the band via email to talk about this upcoming performance at LYD this Saturday, some influences and we got to know a little more about the emerging band. 

Hey guys. Can we start with a roll-call; Who’s in the band and what do they play?

The ensemble changes slightly from gig to gig, but for the upcoming show at jaeger the band consists of Elias Løstegaard on bass, Elias Tafjord on drums, Jesper Fosdahl on guitar, Viktor Ognøy on percussion, Thomas Antonio Debelian on percussion as well, William Foreman on keys, Eira Elise Øverås on trumpet, Mikkel Brekke on trombone and Jeanette Offerdal on saxophone. 

What brought you all together and what was the music that you initially all bonded over?

The band was started by Jesper and Elias with a wish to have an arena where we could play the music we loved the most, that being funk, afro-funk, disco, club music and all other iterations of the funk-genre. We just reached out to the best people around, and people we knew got a kick out of the same music as us. Turns out crowds also love groovy music, who would have known. 

The Funk element in your name is pretty self-explanatory, but how does the forest factor into it?

The name is a slightly corny pun playing on the environmental activist group Fuck for Forest who most memorably, in lack of a better term, fucked on stage at Quartfestivalen 2004. Initially the name was just for fun, but we also try to be a band with a focus on sustainability. Not flying to gigs, putting some of our payments from gigs in environmental funds, buying second-hand stage outfits and other things like that. A good example is that we are making some merch for our Halloween gig at Jaeger, the t-shirts are made here in Oslo and the profit from the merch-sale goes to Regnskodsfondet. 

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It’s unusual lately to find a live band that is not already fully formed with records and a label behind them. Why have you opted for the alternative route?

Funk for Forest was always designed to be a live experience, so it made sense to just start playing and having fun with the project. Our hope is that crowds recognize how fun the show is, so we opted for a sort of word-of-mouth approach. It just felt the most natural to us, and it takes away the pressure so we can have full creative control. 

I hear a lot of familiar pieces, reworked, but you’re not exactly a cover-band either. How would you describe your live show for the uninitiated?

We take a lot of inspiration from DJs and the club culture, so that’s what we try to be; a live, 8-piece band that acts as a DJ playing you the grooviest edits of the music we love. Some of the tracks we play are truer to the originals, while others are more complete rearrangements. We always try to create the “Funk For Forest”-edit, it’s more fun for everyone that way. A big focus has been on making the set flow together, with seamless transitions between the tracks so that the party never stops. We also try to command less attention than your usual band would, so that the crowd can focus on each other and enjoy the grooves. We want to see you dance.  

What do you look for in the songs or the elements that you incorporate in your live show?

If we think people would dance to it, That’s always the main priority. We also look for material we can make our own, or we think would work well with the ensemble we’re rocking at the time. And it always has to be groovy.

You guys play a lot of music that’s older than most of you. What is your relationship with this music and how is it generally passed down to you all?

Everyone in the band has some level of music-education, so a lot of it has been introduced to us from fellow musicians and the environments we were taught in. We also love the music we play, and there has been a lot of digging through catalogs trying to find the perfect tracks. Our love for funk has been expanded a lot through working with Funk For Forest. 

Besides the obvious Funk influences like George Clinton, what are some of the less obvious touchstones for Funk for Forest?

As mentioned earlier, we take a lot of inspiration from house and disco. Todd Terje and Dimitri From Paris are huge inspiration to us in that area. We also love older funk ensembles like Average White Band and disco acts such as Roberta Kelly, as well as more modern funk-and-disco-harbingers like Orgeone, Cory Wong, Nu Gunea and so on. Also the Norwegian funk scene is super cool, we love artists such as Flammer Dance Band, Hubbabubbaklubb and Sex Judas. Many mentioned, many forgotten, but there you have some obvious touchstones!

With 8 people in the band, I assume many of not all of you are also engaged in other projects. What does Funk for Forest represent in terms of music that you don’t necessarily get to do anywhere else?

It’s not that often you get to play music written by somebody else, in your own creative package. It’s an arena where we can play fun music, the music we love the most, where we can really let go. We love to dance, and to be able to play music for people with the sole intention of making them move is something we don’t get to do often!

Who are some of the live bands that have inspired your own performances?

All of the bands and artists named above are brilliant, but a new discovery for us is the French artist/producer Dabuell, the live concert with his band from Paris that is up on Youtube is a gem and has been a source of inspiration and joy ever since we discovered it. Stuzzi from Sweden is a great live-act as well and I think an honorable mention is the Sunday-staple Frank Znort at Blå; always good vibes and great energy.

There’s talk of some original music coming. What can the listener expect that would be a bit different from the stuff you’re doing now?

We don’t know how much we want to give away, but yeah we are making some music and when the time comes we are looking forward to sharing it with everyone. It has to be groovy, that is the most important thing for us, and I know it is for our crowd as well. 

Will any of it be making an appearance during the show at Jaeger?

Probably not. We want to make sure it’s done right by the high Funk For Forest standards of excellence before we premier anything. There is still some time before the gig so we will see, it is going to be a great party anyway, and we can’t wait to dance with you all!

Lastly, please play us out with a song.

In the spirit of the funk and the disco, it has to be: Parribean Disco – Cotonete / Dimitri From Paris.

Be Inspired: A profile on Octave One

We dig through the legacy of one of Detroit’s finest, Octave One as they make their way to Jaeger’s basement for another round of their awe-inspiring live show.

In Detroit, “everything was around us” according to Octave One. The brothers Burden are an indelible addition to the early history of Techno and one of Detroit’s finest exports. Born into the environment that birthed everything from Motown to the Model T automobile, the Burden brothers tap into a vast and extensive history of music and machines that all feed their singular creative output as Octave One. While Lenny and Lawrence are the central figures as the performers of the group, most of the brothers have a hand in some production aspects and running their label 430 West.

Their success is a stark contrast to circumstances into which they were born at a time when Detroit was going through one of its many downturns. “When the car industry declined, it caused a lot of problems in the city,” Lenny and Lawrence told Bridges for Music. People “went from making a lot of money to none” and “had to leave to survive.” That was happening as they grew up and for those that didn’t have the resources to leave there weren’t many options, especially for kids coming of age. For most being born in that environment in the USA there were two options, the military or prison, and for a few lucky ones there was also, sports or music. For the Burden brothers it was the latter and things got noisy real quick… 

“Having all of us in the house playing music could be kinda chaotic at times,” they reminisced in a Musicradar article. Their mum was nothing but supportive, because if it was noisy, she could be content with the knowledge her children were safe. It was ”a form of discipline because she could count on knowing exactly where we were.” The brothers had had a rudimentary musical education from elementary school, and it was emboldened by an eclectic musical taste. “We have a great love for early Old school RnB, Rock, Industrial and even some HipHop,” they told 15 questions;  “… our influences are endless!” 

They weren’t alone in their music adventures during this period., because while they were developing those influences, a whole city seemed to plug into the same wavelength, and Detroit Techno started to emerge. The Burden brothers had already been consuming “tons of Chicago House,” by the time the proto sound of Techno arrived with the likes of Model 500 and Transmat records and the transition was an effortless one. 

Techno was still in its infancy with the first wave of artists to emerge, but the Burden brothers would be there on the cusp of it too, even if it was still early days. “When we started in 1989, our exposure to Detroit techno primarily came from the radio and clubs, but you could have easily escaped it because there wasn’t a lot of it.” From that exposure, they bought “a couple of drum machines and synthesisers” and started making their own music. “It seemed amazing to us that we could make a whole song with just a few pieces of equipment.”

At the centre of their sonic explorations was the Roland TR909 drum machine. “Once we got the 909 I was hooked – that machine’s like a drug” Lawrence told Musicradar. “With the 909 we always say that if we sell that then it’s over.” The drum machine became the centrepiece from which they started to construct their own music, influenced by what they were hearing around them in Detroit. They were embedded in the scene early on, working the lights at the music institute (Derrick May’s joint) amongst other things, but they were not gonna get a free hand out either. Derrick May wouldn’t even give them a DJ set at the place they worked and the cassette tapes they sent for peer review from the labels around them “got rejected quite a few times.” They continued to work at it and the exposure to the new sounds of Techno emanating from places like the music institute undoubtedly only fortified their efforts. 

After a few more cassettes their work finally paid off with a release in 1989 on a forthcoming Transmat compilation and the follow up to the genre-establishing Techno! (The New Dance Sound Of Detroit) compilation, simply called Techno 2 – the next generation. At the time they were still unnamed. “We were put on the spot by Mr. Derrick May when we were asked what was the name of our band,” they recalled in Electronic Beats. “He left the room and we did a very, very quick ‘huddle’ to come up with a name on the fly that we felt best described us, and the name Octave One was born. And it meant and means all of us (Lawrence, Lenny, and Lynell) working in one accord almost as if sharing the same octave.” The track, “I believe” inaugurated Octave One as a fixture in the second wave of Techno coming out of Detroit alongside the likes of Carl Craig and Kevin Saunderson.

Not merely content with that release, the Burden brothers launched their own label right out of the gate, establishing 430 West almost directly after their debut. It was almost unheard of back in the early nineties for an unknown electronic music act to start an independent label. “Apart from Richie Hawtin’s Plus 8 and Carl Craig’s Planet E, not that many people had started their own label back then. We did it out of necessity because Derrick didn’t put out a lot of music on Transmat and we were ready for our next release.” 

430 West came “a time when even a bad record would sell a couple of thousand” and what started as one record soon took on a life of its own. In a couple of releases they established not only a sound for Octave One, but also for their label. Taking those rudimentary Techno archetypes of the generation before them and refining it, they had hit a nerve both in Detroit and Europe. There was, and remains a subtlety there that feigned the brutalist functionalism of the sole drum machine for a richer texture, even going so far as to set up the subsidiary label in the form of Direct Beat for their more functional- exploits and artists like AUX 88.   

Throughout the mid and late nineties they toiled away at both the label and the Octave One project, releasing records that have been coveted by collectors and enthusiasts since they were underground rarities at their time, most of which have only been appreciated with the advantage of hindsight.

Octave One became a touchstone for anybody interested in that early period of Detroit Techno, but this doesn’t mean that struggle has come without success for them. In 2000 they broke new ground with a crossover hit in the form of Black Water. The track sold over a million copies, thanks in part to the soulful vocals of Ann Saunderson, breathing live into the bubbling synthesisers and accentuating the emotive content of the strings.  

Black Water came at a significant time. Not only would it be one of the last examples of physical records selling into those high numbers, but it came at a time when the height of popularity for electronic dance music. As more people flocked to the music, the clubs,  the radio and even MTV, exploited this popularity with big business getting behind the genre for the pay day. As the big-room started selling out, most of the protagonists moved their music and act back toward the underground in this period, while some even abandoned these genres altogether for the likes of Punk and Disco, waiting out the tawdry commercial aspects that took hold.

Octave One took to the former, adopting an “adapt or die” approach during this period. “75% of our monetary gains came from sales, but a few years later it came from touring,” with Octave One becoming a fully formed live group. “I was supposed to play live by myself,” Lenny told Musicradar about the origins of the live set, “ and Lawrence would DJ his set right before I was supposed to hit the stage. I had his mixing console and all of his gear in front of me and was trying to do everything myself when Lawrence jumped on stage.”

Octave One, the live show, was born and soon it would also be immortalised in Techno lore thanks to their inclusion in Jeff Mills’ iconic exhibitionist mix and video series. From that Octave One set on a new trajectory as one of the most sought after live groups in electronic dance music and club culture. Their hardware-heavy set has decimated some of the best club sound systems in the world.

It all “happened organically” and as “the record label started to suffer” in the wake of the internet and everything else, they too started to “slow down being record label guys and concentrate on being performers.” As performers they’ve excelled in their field and there are few live Techno acts that can match the ferocity and experience of Octave One. “The fun part was playing the music” and while their recording efforts took a back-seat to their live performances, they still maintained a regular release schedule. In the last few years they’ve even resurrected and paid homage to a couple of their old aliases in the form Random Noise Generation and Never On Sunday respectively. 

Never On Sunday harks back to the early nineties, but as an album you can’t help being reminded of Black Water, with vocals from Karina Mia all over this thing and emphatic melodies and loud-like textures coming together in accessible, radio-friendly tracks. 

Softening the more functional edges of their live show, the record favours a more varied sound, but retains that elusive soul that remains the core appeal of Detroit Techno to this day.  “Thousands of people still want to experience Detroit techno that was born from the struggle of our lives,” the artists explained in that piece for Electronic Beats, and today more than ever, “from that, inspiration can be born.” Be inspired.

Premiere: Phill Prince – Lost The Key (Det Gode Selskab records)

We get a sneak preview of the up and coming V/A compilation series from Det Gode Selskab while we talk to DGS and Phill prince about the origins of the track and more.

Groovy, melodic, minimal and uplifting springs to mind when you put Phill Prince’s Lost the Key on for the first time. It’s the same words I would and have used to describe Det Gode Selskab Records, the label facilitating this release from the Italian courtesy of four part V/A compilation series coming out this fall.

Phill Prince is a leading light in the Italian underground as the mastermind behind Milan’s PLGRN party set. He is a DJ, producer and promoter and shares many of those core values of the Det Gode Selskab.  With a few invitations back and forth, including a visit to Jaeger’s basement this Saturday, they have found kindred spirits in each other.

Lost the Key cements the friendship as bongos rally around a bouncing bass arrangement and breezy keys; an ode to the end of summer and happy memories from nightlifes mishaps. There’s a serendipity in the title that I’d leave the artist and the label to explain, which re-enforces that sonic bridge between Phill Prince’s music and Det Gode Selskab’s sonic identity.

Lost the Key is a party-starter, its infectious rhythms and stark sonics only has designs intended for the dance floor. We talk to Phill Prince and then Det Gode Selskab about this new track, the upcoming compilation series and the next DGS at Jaeger while you get the exclusive preview.

Interview with Phill Prince

Hey Phill. First off, give us a little background info on you and PLGRN?

My musical journey started at a very young age when I fell in love with the drums. As a kid, I couldn’t resist the allure of electronic music, and that fascination grew over the years.

I began performing in local clubs when I was just 15. I established myself as a DJ, and my sets covered a range of genres, from house to techno. I guess my family’s deep-rooted passion for the disco tunes of the 80s and 90s played a significant role in shaping my musical taste.

My journey into music production began during my time spent in clubs near Venice. I enrolled in specialized training courses for music producers across Italy. There, I started crafting my groove and percussive rhythms using analog machines and MIDI modulation.

With the release of several productions on different labels I’ve been fortunate enough to have my productions supported by several international artists like Jamie Jones, Marco Carola, Jaden Thompson, Rich NxT, East and Dubs, Rossi, and many others. I’ve also had the privilege of performing at renowned venues like  E1 London, After Caposile ,Goya Madrid, Destino Ibiza,Liquid Room Edinburgh, Storgata26 Oslo, Studio69 Berlin, Taboo Paris, Altavoz Venice, The Bus Barcellona, Musica Riccione, Super Club Milano, Apollo Club, to name a few…

Established in February with my partners Jacopo and Pietro, Pellegrino has emerged as a vibrant hub within the Milanese nightlife scene, dedicated to cultivating the unique musical expressions of its DJs, distinguishing them from the typical genres often presented at various events. Milan’s Apollo and Super Club played a key role in bringing this concept to life, dedicating a specific space within the nightlife scene to this format. This support led Pellegrino to obtain a monthly residency at the club, where he introduced a musical direction focused on Minimal, Techhouse and Microhouse genres in the heart of the city.

With Pellegrino, our goal has been to turn the clubbing scene into a musical sanctuary for Milan’s nightlife lovers, a destination where they can relax and enjoy themselves after a busy week, a chance to hear new artist profiles. It became the music destination the city craved. We brought a fresh, original and distinctive idea with a shared musical purpose that resonated with our participants. Our continued support and enthusiasm further fuelled our determination to continue with the project, even after the challenges posed by the closures and prolonged suspension of nightlife due to covid.

How did you find the guys at DGS and what drew to their sound and vibes originally?

Expanding our boundaries has always been a goal of ours and to do this we need to build a community around formats that have similar interests and a musical identity that matches ours.

We started looking for profiles that were interested in this kind of project and shared these ideals, and fortunately we managed to get in touch with the guys from DGS. Their profile was already known to us for several releases on their Power House label that our DJs often support in their selections. 

This aspect, together with the magnificent human side of the creators, led to this magnificent connection and constant showcases between Italy and Norway.

Tell us about how you made Lost the Key?


The composition of ‘Lost the Key’ can be considered as a fusion of both analog and digital elements. This project originated within the studio environment, where we embarked on the exploration of various drum patterns characterized by their distinct freshness and a pronounced techy influence. These explorations were complemented by the incorporation of closed and open-hat sequences, firmly rooted in a classic house style.

The melodic dimension of the piece was meticulously crafted through the modulation of a synthesizer sample sourced directly from the Yamaha Rm1x. This process imbued the composition with an ethereal quality, lending it a constant and deep tonal foundation.

Further enriching the sonic landscape, the central sound was developed using a Roland TB-3, creating a lead acid element that steadily evolves until the track’s reset. This dynamic transformation maintains a consistent energy throughout the composition, evoking associations with a ‘dance floor’ siren, thus encompassing a spectrum of moods that transition seamlessly from deep house to more electro-inspired moments.

The overall structure is characterized by a series of fluid and invigorating grooves, imbuing the composition with a sense of freshness that harmonizes seamlessly within the final mix.


What’s the story behind the title of that track?

Often, the titles I assign to my records are intricately linked to genuine, tangible experiences. In this particular instance, I found myself within the confines of my studio, engrossed in the process of crafting a central melody revolving around a foundation of meticulously constructed kicks and percussion.

As time passed, it became evident that the hour was growing late, and the moment had arrived for me to conclude my work and head home. However, a sense of unease began to grip me as I realized that my keys were nowhere to be found. The ensuing search for these elusive keys proved to be a nerve-wracking ordeal, as I grappled with the mounting doubt and frustration that came with each passing moment.

In a moment of uncertainty, I gravitate back towards my analog machines. In the process of experimentation, a profound connection emerged between the ‘siren’ I had meticulously crafted, the intricate interplay of the drums, and the ethereal pad. It was within this creative juncture that the composition began to take shape and evolve.


What is it about your sounds as an artist that you feel worked well with the sound of the label?

My sound is currently honing in on a distinctive style that spans from minimal to powerful house, affording me the versatility to explore various creative avenues. In this instance, I identified a harmonious connection between my own musical approach and Dgs’ direction. This record, in my perspective, reflects several facets of the house genre that align with the neo-90s vibe of the Norwegian label. Nevertheless, it retains a notably minimal groove that harmonizes with my broader body of work.

How does the track reflect your sound as a DJ?

I aim to craft something vibrant, drawing inspiration from the 90s house sound while maintaining the tempo of today’s minimal-deep tech trend. It’s a dynamic interplay between pad and lead elements, engaging the audience and keeping them on the dance floor. That’s what I strive to create and simulate for the audience – an electrifying energy

Give us a glimpse into your record bag for this upcoming event at Jaeger. 

I have a selection of diverse records at my disposal, but my exploration is an ongoing evolution. My musical focus leans towards a raw house sound, occasionally delving into Romanian minimal influences, while consistently incorporating elements of electro and tribal rhythms.

From labels like Rawax to Kann Records, and including Terry Francis’s latest EP on Hallucienda, along with exclusive previews of my forthcoming releases in the coming months, some of which are recent unreleased creations – all of these elements contribute to the musical journey I aim to craft.

Interview with Det Gode Selskab 

Hey DGS. How did you first hear of Phill Prince and PLGRN?

Det Gode Selskab and PLGRN made their first acquaintance in April, when they invited Tod Louie to play at Super Club in Milano. High five to keepitgoing. for connecting us.

We decided to keep collaborating, and we invited the crew to Oslo at the end of May at Prindsens Hage where we did an outdoor garden party in the middle of the city.

Where does DGS and PLGRN crossover in terms of sound for you?

In many ways the people behind PLGRN and the DGS crew share similar passion and values for the underground club scene. They put their whole heart and love into what they do, and it’s very contagious and loving.

They have high standards, confidence and big hearts which, for us is very important in this scene to keep it healthy and progressive. So all of this made it all very natural to continue developing our Milano – Oslo partnership.

We also see ourselves steering more into the direction of collaborating with labels and concepts rather than booking highliners for Det Gode Selskab nights. That kind of collaboration is what feels right for us.

What attracted you to Phill Prince’s sound as an artist and why did you want him for this compilation?

His sense of grooves and the way he works his music as a DJ and producer. He gives a lot behind the DJ booth and his transitions and build ups are very charismatic and captivating. He is a super DJ and when were introduced to his music we saw a lot of quality that  has a natural place with our label.

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Tell us what you first felt when you heard Lost the Key.

Upon first listening to “Lost the Key” by Phill Prince, I was instantly transported back to ADE 2022, a memory etched with the comical misadventure of Karl Fraunhofer misplacing our apartment key, which eventually found its way into the Amsterdam waters on a Monday morning at the docks. A chaotic moment, though it ultimately concluded on a positive note. Despite the unexpected acrobatics involving scaffolding around our residence, the tale culminated with the locksmith’s timely arrival to restore access.

It’s minimal, groovy and there’s that functionalism there that we all associate with DGS. How does it differ and expand otherwise from the classic DGS sound for you?

It gives some of the same qualities, percussions and sound that Luciano’s Cadenza label has offered us as DJ’s throughout the years. That “terrace” Ibiza-sounds from 2012-2018. It’s a sound that historically has been part of many of our events throughout the year. It works very well!

What does this reflect the rest of the compilation?

Our compilation invites the sound of our collective of artists and new and old friends and acquaintances that we meet as a label, DJs and event series. It encompasses the sound of our label and our extended network and is usually not very genre specific but obviously revolved around the groovier sides of dancefloor music; consisting of house, italo house, tech-house, minimal, techno, breaks and drum & bass.

Tell us a bit about what you expect from the upcoming night with Phill.

He will take the lead for the last two hours of the night, and what to be expected is some serious groove and passion behind the booth. He has a unique style and ability to create forceful transitions that invite a full and playful dance floor.

Memories of summer with Of Norway

Of Norway talk about their new album, their working process, some secret aliases and a very special live show that will follow their official release party at Jaeger.

It’s hard to define the appeal of Norwegian electronic music. It’s a melodic contingent; a love of vintage synthesisers and drum-machines; an eclectic musical history; and a brooding melancholy that’s as sweet as it is foreboding. At the best of times it’s only a couple of those things that distinguish Norway’ s artists, but for one group it’s all of those things and that’s why Of Norway live up to their name. 

Their latest album stands testament to that. Smeigedag is no exercise in restraint either as Chris Lynch and and Vegard “lil” Wolf Dyvik tap into their shared history together to construct a forlorn ode to summer. Melodies dissociate in that familiar happy melancholy that doesn’t strain the patience, while progressive rhythms tap into some ancient ritualistic pulse. The racks go from the euphoric House exaltations of “Love” to the moody ambient embrace of “Second coming,” with melody and texture remaining at the forefront of their work. 

It’s instantly familiar, not merely for its Norwegian connotations, but as a consistent thread between this latest and Of Norway’s previous records like “Accretion” and “The Loneliest Man in space.” The latter had been our last contact with the group before the pandemic (even though we learn that they’ve released another record since), and from that album’s electro-leaning affiliations to this latest record, the core of the group’s sonic signature has remained unchanged even as they drift into different musical regions.

After four albums and a host of EPs, Of Norway Chris and Vegrad haven’t evolved the sound as much as they’ve cemented it. They’ve enjoyed a healthy and productive relationship with Connaisseur records, releasing all their albums on that Offenbach-based outlet while releasing EPs and singles for the likes of Darkroom Dubs, Bedrock and Do not sit on the furniture. Oddly for a group called Of Norway, their music has been more successful outside of Norway even though Vegard and Chris have been fixtures in Oslo’s scene through institutions like iconoclastic and Kill your Ego. 

As DJs Chris and Vegard continue to play around town and abroad on occasion, and as artists we’ve come to expect a regular release from Of Norway. Their history with electronic music in the scene goes back to the early 2000’s and there’s more to Of Norway than meets the eye, including a couple of secret aliases. This amongst other things piques our interest around Of Norway, and ahead of the official release of the album, we reach out to the group with some questions.

As the duo prepares for the official release party at Jaeger, we call Vegard and Chris to find they are currently working on a very special live show, and Chris’ phone is buzzing with guestlist requests… 

 

Where are you at the moment?

Chris Lynch: We’re in the studio, working on the live set. We’ve just got booked to play Berghain so we’re a bit nervous. 

O wow. That’s big news. Is this due to Smeigedag and is the live show going to be largely based around the new album?

Chris:  Yes, it is. Andy Baumecker (Berghain resident and booker) really liked the promo that he got and he got in touch with us asking: “do you want to play the album plus other recent things that we made.” 

Vegard “lil” Wolf Dyvik: There might be some older things, but it’s mostly the newer stuff.

Chris: It’s a slightly different sound to our earlier albums. It’s a little more dance floor…

Vegard: Is it?

Chris: Yes it is, if you compare it to the Accretion album. It’s a little more club friendly. 

When you have something like Berghain coming up, do you take that context into consideration when preparing your live set or do you present the songs pretty much as they are from the album?

Vegard: I think we’re pretty true to our album. We don’t change our sound for clubs anywhere. 

Chris: It’s more about the sequencing or the tracks we choose to play. If we play an open air space, you can play the more trancy stuff, or if we play a basement it’s more bass-heavy. If we have 20 tracks in a live set, we’ll only play 6 or 8 of them. 

Vegard: The difference is we are preparing a lot of tracks and we have a system so we can just jump to any track we want. Which means, like a DJ, we don’t have to play our tracks in sequence. We won’t change the way the tracks sound.


And you are able to react to the audience as well, since you have twenty odd songs at your disposal?

Chris: Yes, and you can take the bassline of one track and put it into another song. Like if you were a DJ and you had like a hundred stems that you could just put in wherever. We’re not getting booked to play large stages, we’re still in the small clubs, so it makes sense to play something that fits in there. 

Vegard: Also when we used to take a guitarist/ bass player with us, it was more like a concert and people would just stand and look at us. We want people to have a fun experience dancing, presenting our own music. 

Chris: If there’s too much shit going on people are just standing, and you get a lot of guys scratching their beards. 

Ok, we should probably talk about the reason for this interview; Smeigedag. It’s the first record in a couple of years for you and it seems like there are some disparities with this record and the Loneliest man in Space, which to me was more electro-leaning while this one is more straight…

Chris: Yes it’s more House-y. We don’t really plan stuff, it just happens. 

Vegard: It’s kind of a corona-thing. A lot of the sketches were made during corona.

Chris: We just missed going out. We actually made another album between those two, which was made during covid. It was called the Soft Apocalypse, and it was more dark and ambient. It was a darker record and this one is a lighter record.

Vegard: We made most of it during summer. 

Chris: I remember the label said; “ah you really missed summer,” didn’t you? It really came around quickly, around July.

Of this year? That’s a quick turnover. 

Chris: Yes, I think it started out in May and we were done by the end of June. 

Vegard: We have a very close relationship with Connaisseur. We sent a couple of tracks to Alex (Fitsch) and said; “maybe this could work as an EP.” And he was like; “actually maybe this could work as an album.”

Chris: So we thought; “guess we have to make some more music.”

Vegard: Whenever we make an album, with the exception of Accretion, which took ages, it’s two or three weeks and then we have most of it down. 

Chris: That first album took absolute ages. We didn’t know what we were doing, it was years ago. We were maybe overthinking it. 

Vegard: And now we have hundreds of sketches. Whenever we start a track, we just go through the library.

What is your working process like?

Chris: We get together twice a week religiously. We meet up at 18:00 every Tuesday and Wednesday and work till 21:00-ish. It’s almost like going to soccer practice, but it’s a lot more fun. 

That’s disciplined. At what point do you realise a track is done and when do you recognise that they’ll work together on an album like Smeigedag?

Vegard: Well, we only release albums via Connaisseur. The label helps out with what goes on the album, to be honest. 

Chris: Basically, we have a private folder on soundcloud and stuff everything in there. We do the first selection and then we send it to the label. Connaisseur is more like an old-school label in the way they are involved in everything from the sequence of the tracks to the length of them. New labels don’t invest so much time in it. It suits us well. 

How many songs did you deliver for the label on this occasion?

Chris: This time we actually didn’t deliver enough. We actually had to make another one. 

Vegard: There were a couple of tracks they didn’t want. 

Chris: It started off as an EP with three or four tracks, and they asked to make it an album, and now it’s a mini-album. I still call it an album but the label calls it a mini-album. 

Did you guys have an idea in terms of sound when you were still working on it as an EP, or was it just that it coalesced around a sound because you happened to be working on all the tracks in the same kind of timeframe?

Chris: I think it’s mostly the timeframe. 

Vegard: When we planned it as an EP, we took three of the finished songs, because we thought they might fit together. It was more like we had some tracks that fit together and not that we went for a sound. 

Chris: It’s hard to go for a sound. 

Vegard: We don’t know what we want to do. 

Chris: Sometimes these tracks are in their sixth or seventh version and the starting point is something completely different. 

What ties it all together for you on this album? 

Chris: Euphoric warmth, with a classic Norwegian underlying melancholy which has a dark depressing edge in there.

Vegard: Some of the sketches in there were from when I lost my cat. 

Chris: We have another EP coming out on Bedrock (John Digweed’s label) and they are basically homages to Vegard’s cat. 

Were you influenced by any tangible thing at the time, except the fact that Vegard’s cat died?

Vegard: When I started the sketches I wanted everything to be melancholic and warm. For Christmas one year, I got digitised video tapes from when I was little. 

Chris: Me as well.

Vegard: So on the cover of the album, the two little kids, that’s me and Chris. 

Chris: All the canvas videos on Spotify, all that stuff is from our own home movies from the late 70’s early 80’s. 

Vegard: That kind of inspired me. 

Chris: The fuzziness and graininess of the video and the way the sun bleeds into the photograph.

Vegard: You know, when life was good. (laughs)

Chris: You know The Doors track, Summer is almost gone. Not specifically the track, but the feeling. 

What’s interesting is that when I first listened to the record I immediately had this sense of haziness that you talk about, like an old polaroid captured in sound. But I didn’t have the words to describe it until you just said it now. 

Chris: Yes, we actually managed to find it now while talking to you. It all hangs together, from the video to the press photos and the cover and the sound, it’s quite cohesive. We’ve managed to get hold of some thirty summer postcards from the 70’s and they are going to be in the limited edition vinyl album. 

Vegard:  A summer greeting from us. 

Have you guys known each other for that long?

Chris: We’ve only known  each other since the early 2000’s and we started making music together since 2006. I did a radio show at Radio Tellus back in the days, and Vegard was there playing some times. We were both DJs and knew each other through that. Oslo was quite small and the DJ scene was quite small back then. 

And then you played together at iconoclastic?

Chris: Yes I started playing with Deadswan and then Vegard joined us later, We were a trio for some years. So, we’ve been doing different projects together, but the Of Norway project has almost always been House-based music. 

Vegard: It’s always been quite emotional. 

I was listening to one of our early records, Karpathian Thirst in preparation for this interview, and that Of Norway mood is there from the start. Then again, do you feel your music has evolved?

Chris: Definitely. I can’t really say how, it  just has.

Vegard: I think, we’ve been doing this so long now, and we’ve been through so many different things, that we have so many reference points that we can put this together. 

Chris: Something that’s nice about getting older, is that you can step back and see the big picture. When you’re young and get into something like minimal Techno, then everything is about that and you can’t judge anything else, because you think everything else is shit. Like we like to say in Norway, you’ve got to get out of the duck pond. You get more oversight.

I remember iconoclastic happening around the same time you started Of Norway. It was at the end of the electroclash era, so there was still this melting pot of various genres and styles…

Chris: It was the end of electroclash and the beginning of the blog-house scene. It was very eclectic, so you took stuff from all over the musical map and popped it in there. 

Vegard: It was very energetic and rough.

Chris: And Punky in a way. 

Exactly and when I first heard of Norway it didn’t sound like the offspring of any of that, but something completely different again. 

Chris: That was just one of many things. At that time we both lived as DJs. I played indie music, and I played Drum n Bass at Kill your Ego and Sykemekanico. I also played old-school Hip Hop.

Vegard: I was more into US-House and Garage. 

Chris: I realise it’s quite confusing, because we’ve always had the same DJ names and you never know what you’re going to get. Musically we’ve been all over the place. I think reference-wise, we can be influenced by absolutely everything; even a sound in a Nick Cave record.

Do all these eclectic influences feed into this one project?

Vegard: We’ve grown a bit wiser now, so we’ve chosen some monikers. 

Chris: We do produce music under different names, so we have three names that we release music under. 

What are the other two? 

Chris: They’re both secrets. One of them has released a lot of music. Now it’s easier, if something sounds like Of Norway, we’ll just continue as Of Norway. We enjoy being secretive, because we’re men in our mid forties, and if people knew that they probably wouldn’t sign us. 

Tell me about your relationship with the label Connaisseur and how that started.

Chris: Vegard had the first contact with Connaisseur.

Vegard: It was a very long time ago. I don’t remember how we got in touch, maybe Myspace. I know why they signed us. It was because we were called Of Norway, and we looked like a black metal band. 

Chris: Our press photos were in black and white and high-contrast, and we had this hand drawn necro logo. It was completely different from what you hear musically and that caught their interest. 

Vegard: The tracks had titles  like Karpatian Thirst.

Chris: Yeah, they were all metal names. After that, we were included on the compilation, and we thought that’s it. Then they invited us to play a place called Bar 25 in Berlin, which was this hedonistic, legendary club in Berlin. After that the ball started rolling with Connaisseur and they signed more and more stuff. 

Vegard: They are also friends now. We even made a track for his (Alex) daughter. 

Chris: Song for Eva is dedicated to his daughter. All proceedings go to her educational fund.

I assume they were based in Offenbach back then. How did you hear about Connaisseur recording in the first place?

Vegard: I had some records from them.

Chris: They had a massive hit, years ago with Patrick Chardronnet called “Eve by Day.” Soundwise, we’ve never sounded like anything else on the label. 

Vegard: We’ve never sounded like anything on any of the labels we’re signed with.

Chris:  Everytime we get signed to a label, we think; “why the hell did you sign us?” (both laugh) We don’t fit in anywhere. 

Vegard: So therefore we fit in everywhere. 

That’s a testament to your music. It can reach a large audience. Do you feel that your music translates better outside Norway than in Norway?

Chris: There’s no reason for it, but I definitely think so. It’s definitely Germany and the US that are the biggest territories for us. We’ve had a few releases on an American label called Do not sit on the furniture.

Vegard: I think it’s because we’re not so actively part of the Norwegian scene as DJs anymore. 

Chris: It’s not been on purpose, it’s just happened. 

After this record and the gig in berghain, what else is on the horizon for Of Norway?

Chris: We’re releasing a record for Darkroom dubs. We’ve got some stuff on Bedrock. We have something on a label called Sum over histories (Frankey and Sandrino). Otherwise on the DJing and live side, we were unfortunate after corona, and lost our agent. We’re free agents so we’re not getting many gigs at the moment. 

Hopefully having Berghain on the CV will help, hopefully…

 

Words: Mischa Mathys

Oslo World lineup and tickets announced

Jaeger is back on the Oslo World programme for 2023 with an extensive lineup across four days as we help the Oslo institution celebrate 30 years.

30 years is a long time and we’re proud to be a part of that tradition for as long as we care to remember. The world descends on Oslo for a music festival celebrating the sonic bedrock from the four corners of the world every year and 2023 will be no different. From right here in Norway, to India, to Lebanon, to Ukraine, and via Berlin we cover the furthest reaches of global music for one week in the year as Oslo World arrives at Jaeger. From the esoteric to the exotic, in the universal language of electronic music, Jaeger celebrates the extensive sounds of the world over two dance floors with appearances from Nefertiti, Dara Woo, Gela, Nur Jabber, Soju Princess, Olga Korol, Sous Vide, Suchi, Det Gode Selskab and a host of Jaeger residents and friends. We kick off on the 1st of November.

Programme schedule:

01.11 Oslo World: Nefertiti + Dara Woo + Gela
02.11 – Helt Texas: Nur Jaber + Soju Princess
03.11 – Frædag x Sous Vide: Olga Korol +  Per Hammar + Thomas Skjaerstad
04.11 – Nightflight x Det Gode Selskab: Suchi  

Tickets are now available at ticketco with more tickets available on the door on the night. Watch this space for further information coming soon.

Obsessing with with Sommerfeldt

Marius Sommerfeldt is back. The other half of De Fantastike To is releasing records again under the eponymous Sommerfeldt with a couple of notable releases in the last year. While he’s remained a fixture in Oslo’s DJ booths throughout, most notably as a member of the UK-leaning Løkka FM collective, his output from the studio has been limited until 2022 “Colours” on Paper Recordings and reinforced by the most recent “Tell me What to do” via Vinny Villbass’ label, Badabing. 

“Tell me What to do” sees him working with Løkka FM colleague, Toshybot (legs 11) in a signature Norwegian House aesthetic bridging worlds between US House, UK Garage and Space Disco. Toshybot’s baritone rides ebullient synthesisers, bubbling in the lower regions crisscrossing the trellis-like percussive section. 

Last year’s “Colours “ saw him rely on the same formula with vocals supplied by Sigmund Floyd on this occasion. Textures evoked a dreamy soundscape through a dazzling haze of synthesisers that seemed to arrive on a milky cloud. 

There are obvious similarities between his and Mikkel Haraldstad’s 2010 breakout track “Neste Stopp Morra Di” in as much as it maintains that infectious “Norwegian House” formula, but it’s updated for a modern dance floor. Besides a change of name and a new palette of sounds, Sommerfeldt carries the same spirit in his music and finds the artist refining his sound in collaborating with other artists yet again. 

What is it about these collaborations that bring out the best in Sommerfeldt and what does this new era in music define for the Norwegian artist? We sent over some questions to Marius via email to find out more as he prepares for his upcoming visit to Jaeger for Olle Abstract’s LYD

Is it fair to say that you were on a musical hiatus as an artist for a while, and what were some of the determining factors for that break?

That is fair to say. And truth to be told, the break was all about finding my own sound as an artist. I’ve been working with people in groups most of my career, so I spent some time searching for inspiration and developing my own sound.

What is the current status of De Fantastike To?

It’s currently on hold, but we might go back in the studio again. We’ve been talking about it, but I guess that life just happened for both of us.

And what eventually brought you back to making new music as a solo artist?

The never-ending fascination of making music. I have so much music in my head that needs to come out! It’s kind of an obsession, really. Fine-tuning a kickdrum or adding some reverb on a synthline is meditative.

How do you feel your solo stuff differs from DFT’s work?

There is a slightly more jazzy aspect in DFT’s productions. A good combination of Rave-Enka and Sommerfeldt in there, I would say.

In between you were still DJing and it seemed most of your efforts were concerned with the Løkka FM project. How did you arrive in that collective and what was it about the UK sound specifically resonated with you?

We were just four people having a strong relationship towards british club-music. We met over a couple of beers and started talking about the lack of a proper UKG night in Oslo. Needles to say, we did something about it! I mean, UK did the American house-sound, but on steroids…

What’s not to like?

How has it informed your work beyond the DJ booth and in the studio?

I’m producing house, but with a pretty huge amount of swing in basically everything. I even did a upcoming remix for Center Of The Universe and Nikki Oniyome, which is pretty similar to garage 

One of the people that was involved there with you, Toshybot, also makes an appearance on your latest Badabing record. And this is not the first time you’ve both worked in the studio together. What planted the seed for this creative collaboration, and besides adding vocals to your tracks, how has he influenced your work?

We have been friends for a long time, and music-wise he introduced me to stuff I haven’t heard before. It’s just a joy to work with him, and our studio-sessions are so much fun!

On your 2022 record Colours, for Paper Recordings you also featured a couple of vocalists in the form of Sigmund Floyd and Nora. What is it about the vocal craft that draws you to singers in your music?

I love working with vocals! It’s even more complicated in terms of leaving room and space for a vocalist in a track. I mean, vocals can be at times horrible in a club-track, but when done correctly it just makes sense, right?

What do you look for in a vocalist?

Some edge, a roughness, soul, I mean the voice goes deeper than just singing the right notes! I usually leave some happy accidents in there from the sessions. Sigmund did a first take on our latest release, and he did miss slightly in a part towards the end, we were just.

Nah.. fuck it!

At what point does the vocalist enter into your creative process and how much input do you have in the writing process including the lyrics?

It differs, I usually do the sketch of an instrumental and send the rough demo. Then we do maybe a rec session or two while I finish the production, constantly sending the vocalist new versions for approval.

You worked with Sigmund Floyd (Palace of Pleasure) who is also in Legs 11 with Toshybot.  What is your relationship with that crowd and are there any plans to work more with the people behind those two groups?

Yeah. They are my friends. I love those guys! We used to share studio as well…

I’ve never played in a band before, so we might form Legs 12? A collab would be really cool!

They are very much in that indie electronic pop world, while your work very much lives in the House music circles. Where is the crossover between these two worlds for you?

I like independent music! Both genres usually work with synths, drum-machines combined with organic instruments. It feels playful and live.

What first got you interested in House music and how has it developed to this point?

My brother’s cd-collection and Olle Abstract on P3 as an early teenager. I mean House-music? It was out of this world right? Made by machines, computers and stuff, it was like a one-man band. Needles to say, I absolutely loved it!

Your sound on a record like Tell me What to at times flirts with that Norwegian nu-disco aesthetic. It’s very ethereal at times, with dubby rhythms and charming arpeggios floating through the record. What kind of influence has that Oslo scene played in your own development as an artist if any?

I guess I try to produce house, but I don’t like that way too formulaic stuff, so I just throw in a lot of my influences to make it interesting for myself and hopefully, the listener. I guess I’m a product of the DJ / Oslo scene in that way. We usually have to include different genres, tempos and styles,otherwise me, and the crowd get bored.

What do you consider the effects of people like Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje on the artists that came after them, artists like yourself?

They paved the way for a quirky more leftfield Norwegian approach to club-music. DIY stuff, I mean it’s a hard country to break trough, producing underground electronica. They just did it by themselves. That still inspires me!

What have you taken from that scene that came before you into the music that you are making today, and how have you made it your own in your opinion?

It has always been a huge inspiration as the early generation paved the way for disco, house and techno in a country which is ultimately pretty remote. Prins Thomas was even the first person who signed us as the now defunct  Sommerstad (together with Mikkel Rev) That helped me alot in terms of my career and also the way I work with and hear music.

After a few singles/EPs over the last two years, what’s next for Marius Sommerfeldt and what is the ultimate goal for you when it comes to making music?

First of all, this is what I want to do. I had other jobs in my life, but music is my passion. I keep getting better, and I’m slowly taking my studio-setup to the live-stage. I’m testing the setup abroad in Lisboa this September.

I want to record an album, hopefully at my cabin this autumn with Sigmund Floyd.

I’m also releasing a new EP, a remix and some more tracks as Sommerbad (me and Boblebad) and also on Full Pupp as Cocktail Sport (with From Beyond and Boblebad) So to summarize it: make tracks, DJ, travel,  play live and generally have a good time doing it!





The Need for Music with Simon Field

We sat down with Simon Field during Øya week to talk about his debut LP, Need No Music and his journey to this moment. He celebrates the album release at Jaeger this Friday.

It’s taken Simon Field 10 years to produce his debut album. At 53 years of age, it might be assumed he left it pretty late, but stretching  behind this watershed moment, is a vast experience that covers a very large spectrum of  the music business. 

A song-writer, composer, producer and lyricist, Simon’s accolades span the length and breadth of the music industry and yet you’d be hard pressed to find his name anywhere. An artist working in the shadows, he’s penned and produced music for the majority of his life, and while you probably haven’t heard of him, it’s likely that you have heard his music before. He’s created music for film, written pop-songs, played at esteemed venues like Ministry of Sound, and worked with some of the best in our scene yet for the most part he’s feigned the recognition in favour of the creative endeavour.

10 years ago he made the leap to solo artist releasing his first House-infused records, mostly  via Perfect Havoc on Spotify, culminating in a lengthy discography that has garnered millions of streams and half a million monthly listeners. Tracks like “Shake the tree”  have made him a household name in regions as far afield as Mexico –  a tour on the horizon there – while remixes for the likes of Kelis and Nina Simone have bridged the divide between the accessible and functional in Simon’s music.

His music is supported by most house music veterans from David Guetta, Oliver Heldens, Mark Knight, Chris Lake, Claptone, Dombresky, Freejak, Benny Benassi, Majestic and many more.

His debut album, No Need Music, arrives filling the gaps more effectively between these two worlds. With a foot in two worlds, Simon Field is both an accomplished recording artist and a DJ, and in his  efforts to consolidate these two aspects of his artistic identity he has created an album that pushed his sound closer to the dance floor. Tracks, specifically “made for the club moment in mind,” and an ambient finale bear the fruits of this labour. 

We meet in the middle of Øya week with the dominant pulse of a kick drum playing staccato thuds in the background. The Bergen born, Oslo native has been indulging in the music in Tøyen park and beyond, but he’s perky and perched on the edge of his chair. Never taking himself too seriously, he interjects often with a stifling laugh and while he he stops short at name-dropping he is eager to broach any musical subject and very excited to talk about his new LP:

“They are all club tracks, besides one beautiful ambient” piece that concludes the LP.  “Last summer I did so many cool festival gigs, and I decided that I want to do new original material at every gig,” explains Simon for context. He set himself a goal: “alright I’m doing ten gigs, let’s do ten new songs.“ Each track was specifically created to suit a moment at each gig, with factors like previous DJ and moment in time taken into consideration and the result is a 12-track LP that covers a wide range of situations. 

 

Even the finale and the only beat-less indulgence on the record, Es Vedrá was a conscious effort to “reset the room” in the knowledge that the previous DJ would drop him off at the region of 136 beats per minute. The track’s dominating synth swells through the air while a “persian” vocal flutters sporadically in what Simon describes “as one of the best tracks I’ve ever written.” It’s the only introspective departure from an album that is firmly rooted in the predetermined foundations of House with little more than one breakdown per track diverging from the obstinate rhythms. Percussion and bass dominates, in unceasing movement with even the ever-present vocals moving through the tracks in stochastic “ahhs” and “oohs”. Listening to track like “Gack Gack” where there’s so much emphasis on the lower frequencies, I’m not surprised to find it is in fact in the bass where Simon’s musical roots took hold. 

Born in Bergen his musical education was passed down from an older sibling. “Growing up my brother listened to Earth Wind and Fire, so my first music was Funk and Soul, and that’s been with me forever.” Those sounds awoke an appreciation for the bass guitar and “the first thing I wanted to do when I picked up the bass was learn how to slap.” 

Learn to slap, he did, and it went much further than that, as Simon set his sights on that precursor for Funk and Soul, Jazz. When he moved to Scotland for school, he took evening courses at a Ronnie Scott tutorial programme while studying towards a degree in Science management. “I spent four years figuring out what I don’t want to do with my life, ” laughs Simon. “By the end of the study I was doing more gigs than being in school,” and an interest flourished whereby he “just leaned into every bit of literature and videos I could find.”

Returning home to Bergen he started playing in “several bands,” most of who modelled their sound on the likes of Donald Fagen. “We all wanted to be doing Steely Dan,” he remembers, playing “as many chords as possible” which would later prove to be an important aspect of his writing skills especially as he started producing House music. 

“I can actually put that into my music and it’s beautiful when working with singers,”  he insists. In House music’s pretty conservative constructions where there’s little room for the kind of thematic movement that is usually associated with the likes of Fagen, this adds a dimension to Simon Field’s music that sets him a little apart from the status quo and perhaps part of his international appeal. This harmonic intervention on the part of the artist helps humanise this stark machine music. It often also sits alongside Latin rhythms, a familiar trope in House music and something that is close to his heart, as the determining factor from which all Simon’s groove is distilled.

“Everything I do in music is played with that (latin) quantising,” expresses Simon. It’s been a feature of his music in all forms for as long as he played bass, and he feels that it’s “fundamental to every music genre” and the source to all music. “You get into this groove and your job is to get those asses to move.”

Getting those asses to move on his debut album, he calls on his extensive experience working on a myriad of music from Country to Hip-hop. It has taken him to places like LA, where he’s written and produced songs for prominent artists and producers that he is not able to mention by name. It was during these surreptitious musical activities that he would start developing a sound forged in electronic music. “While I was doing all that other stuff, I started programming to make the writing more clear for the people I played with.” He had a “huge love for synthesisers” from his band days in Bergen when he started switching out his bass guitar for synthesisers – “the band didn’t always like that” (laughs) – and “started collecting synthesisers and making music” based around those electronic instruments. 

“My publisher said you can send off stuff to films, so I started sending off portishead-like songs that I thought no-one wanted.” People did wanted them nonetheless. It wasn’t his first foray into music for tv. Back in his band days, his group Elle Melle contributed the title theme to TV2 Frokost TV, but this time his music would find an international audience through placements in series like Calfornication. “A lot of music for Californication which is a Funk-House kind of blend” and “that really kicked it off.” Funk being much of the predecessor to House “definitely” bridged a gap between Simon’s work as a bassist/composer and House music, but House had not been an unknown entity either.  It was “there all the time” but it had been a kind of “party music” until one point ten years ago, when things started to click in place for Simon. 

In a pitch for something that would most likely be assigned to another artist on disco:wax the label said: “we could release this as it is and you could be the artist”. That track was, “The music is you” and it “totally switched everything” for Simon who dropped everything else for a more singular pursuit. ”I just said ‘no’ to anything other than House music from that point.” 

A decade later with an extensive discography behind his back, Simon is confident he made the right decision. “I’ve done this project for ten years now and listening back to my first demos and first releases, that’s coming full circle now.” The essence of what he created in the beginning with a track like “The Music is you” is still there in “Need No Music” with Simon’s rhythmical foundations and his insistence for vocals remaining central to his work. 

On the album the vocals often favour a more abstract approach, but Simon’s presence of mind in his musical pursuits is still there. “I’ve been trying to get to this place all along,” he suggests. ”All these people putting money into your music, are saying you should do this or this” he dismisses today, blowing a raspberry as he says it and it’s paid off in his favour. His music has featured on the likes of BBC Radio 1; he’s remixed and been remixed by the likes of Todd Terry and Erick Morillo, and with  a DJ touring schedule that sees him play in the venues like Café Mambo in Ibiza he doesn’t need the validation either. 

He’s not playing as much as he was before covid – ”travelling in Europe every week at least” – but the gigs are still rolling in, and while he’s something of an unknown in Oslo, in London  his “music works really well,” especially since his home-label Perfect Havoc is located there. What started out as a hobby, just developed naturally for Simon and now he loves nothing more than to DJ. 

“Playing live has always been my favourite thing and DJing is just the same. I’m really living the music when I play.” His next DJ event will be at Jaeger to celebrate the release for the album and he’s asked Monojack, Blichteldt and old friends Tube & Berger for the occasion. “There are definitely many DJs that I have played with over the years that I would like to bring (to Jaeger), that’s why I’m so glad that Tube & Berger said yes.” 

It’s through club nights like these that Simon is looking to recontextualise his music for the next audience. “I feel like what I’ve done on Spotify, I should have made it more club from the start,” he considers for a moment before adding; “Then again, I love those songs, and they work on radio and they’ve taken me places.“ “Need no Music“ will move his audience closer to the heart of the dance floor, but as it remains destined for Spotify, he has no intention of disappointing his legion of fans; fans, including people like Erick Morillo and David Guetta and stretching as far afield as Mexico. 

 

Be A Man You Ant – 10 years of André Bratten

We go ten years back in time to the release of André Bratten’s debut album to look at the lasting legacy of Be A Man You Ant before he performs live in our basement this week

There was a time in Oslo where you couldn’t get away from André Bratten’s Trommer og Bass. It seemed to be spilling out of every DJ booth in in the city, the sheer force of the track decimating every track that had come before or after it in the same set. 

Its impact couldn’t be overstated. Even before it was released Jennifer Cardini, who had sent that track to be mastered for her Correspondant VA, quickly understood its power. “The sound was so powerful; the sound was so big,” according to Jennifer Cardini. “When we got Trommer og Bass, I wrote to him (André Bratten) and asked; ‘hey can we get a pre-mastered version, because the version you sent has a compressor and limiter on it.’ He wrote back to me saying no it hasn’t, ‘that’s the premaster actually.’” It says something about André Bratten’s mastery of the studio as an instrument, and the complete nature of his music, but that alone doesn’t count for the sheer appeal of the record. 

It was a Techno record with just enough of that Norwegian melodic nature to make it appeal to a broad audience, while finding its own lane in a scene that would soon be dominated by the draconian influence of Berlin. It could be played at a peak time House set, and be admired outside of the club context. It was a big room track with all the trappings of a dance floor hit that would reaffirm the name André Bratten in a new sphere of club music. He put the track out again on Math Ion Ilium after it appeared on the Correspondant VA in a move he thought would be “smart to do” and which offered the bridge into new sonic possibilities from his previous LP, and debut Be A Man You Ant.

Trommer og Bass took from that album’s more demanding Techno inclinations and expounded on it, but it was the striking debut that had enshrined the name André Bratten in the electronic music scene in Norway and beyond. Be A Man You Ant hit a nerve with Disco riding a tidal wave of popularity across the globe and the album quickly found its own sweet spot just ahead of the curve. 

André Bratten was not unknown by the time Be A Man You Ant saw the light of day. He had carved out a name for himself in Oslo as a member of the delphic Hubbubbaklubb with its quixotic melodies and its mechanical rhythms. As a founding member of the group, he was instrumental in the early success of Hubbubbaklubb, playing a significant role in their breakout hit Mopedbart. Most would have been content as a lynchpin in that group, but such is André Bratten’s personality, that he is always looking to explore new worlds and new sounds in music.

He had already established himself in a studio across the hall from Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas and as the younger upstart amongst these relatively older heads of the Norwegian Disco scene, Bratten set out on his debut LP, tongue firmly in cheek.

“(M)y first record sort of started over dinner with Prins Thomas.” recalls André in an interview with Deep House Amsterdam from 2015. “I was just being a little kid trying to prove myself, and we were talking about this whole space disco sound, and I was bragging like ‘Making a disco record is easy!’ so I made a disco record even though he was obviously much better at writing disco than I was.”

André Bratten might not have the same prowess as Prins Thomas, but he definitely made it his own. His mastery of the studio would prove to leave no stone unturned in his approach to music and Disco too would not be left unchallenged. “I am a technical geek,” Bratten once told Electronic Beats during an interview and this fascination with the technical aspects of music has cemented in an impressive arsenal of vintage synthesisers and machines which are often talked about in venerated and covetous tones. Using these old machines seemed to play in Bratten favour when he was recreating the sonic signatures of this retro-fitted music, emphasising their inherent character which in part laid the foundations for the original genre. 

Happy arpeggios flit through dramatic soundscapes that contain all the drama of a Disco anthem without sacrificing the danceable beat. The opening- and title track paints by numbers as syncopated beats echo through vintage effects while euphoric bass-lines dig towards the centre of the dance floor. In a happy dichotomy however, there’s very little tying the record to compatriots like Prins Thomas, Lindstrøm and Todd Terje, who had already planted a flag. Bratten’s sound was bolder, and more striking and when you get to a track like Aegis other elements start coming to the fore in a serious divergence from the national tropes. 

“Aegis was a more Techno-ish, more British, more border community kind of vibe,” André Bratten told us in an interview with this blog. With just a “twist of Techno”, he produced something that sat outside the Norwegian Disco trends, and yet couldn’t be completely extrapolated from it either.  “I had to think a little about politics, I couldn’t do a super weird Techno record first,” he said, but elements of what was to come in the following EP was already there. It’s true that most of Math Ilium Ion was created and produced before his debut LP, but like everything else, Bratten’s approach was nothing but a calculated response to what he was hearing around him and finding his own niche within that. 

He didn’t want to be compared to Lindstrøm, an easy task for the media, who sought nothing else to pigeonhole him with his studio neighbour.  “It’s hard not to becauseI share studio space and use analogue synthesisers and drum machines,” he told Electronic beats, but Bratten was intent on making his own mark, and used tracks like Aegis, and his singular approach to the studio to make an indelible mark. 

There’s something more stark and at times abrasive to Be A Man You Ant and even when dealing with uplifting melodies, it’s clouded in a perpetual darkness. “You can’t make music that is not personal, sure, but that’s my arena, and it’s not for anyone else,” he said when we talked about the mood he creates on tracks like Aegis and Trommer og Bass. Whether he’s being manipulative or aloof is unsure, but he’s less inclined to talk about these “feelings” behind the music. “I don’t want to be a dictator of what people feel. I find people that need to talk about the personal input in their music need to see a shrink.” Yet, even to an uninformed listener they are ever-palpable in his music. 

Later in the André Bratten catalogue records like Gode and Pax Americana would emphasis and enhance the emotional depths the music can flow to in pronounced soundscapes orchestrated around melancholy electronica, but for Be A Man You Ant, they are very much subverted for the overall estascism of the Disco beat. There’s a depth there that belies the happy-go-lucky nature of the Disco formula as chirping synthesisers clash with dissonant harmonic movements, infusing the music with a sense of drama that only somebody like Arthur Russell could achieve. 

It was a brief dalliance with the Disco genre, but its impact some ten years on is no less significant. While André Bratten would go on to make everything from wavy pop-electronica to warping bleep Techno, Be A Man You Ant would be left to its own devices in the artist’s catalogue, a hermetically sealed slice of perfection for its time and beyond.

Bratten moves on quickly in terms of music, and you’ll never find an artist repeating himself in the studio. At times this even makes it hard to pin-point the results with any kind of artistic identity, but each record, including Be A Man You Ant has tis time and place in his wide arching catalogue. When we spoke to him back in 2015, he said;  “I think the Norwegian scene is missing a proper Techno guy, so I’m trying to be that guy.” For a while he was that guy, playing blistering live sets and making uncompromising Techno on records Math Ilim Ion or skiddish broken Electro on records like Valve, but what he established on Be A Man You Ant remains intact. Ten years on it’s a modern classic and a record that still garners some fanfare whenever it comes on. 

From the Archives: DJ Food with Jennifer Cardini

We head back in time to 2016 when André Bratten and Jennifer Cardini last played together at Jaeger in this interview from the archives. The pair reunite at Jaeger this Frædag for a special 10 year celebration of Bratten’s record Be a Man you Ant.

Jennifer Cardini doesn’t require an introduction. She’s been an integral part of the underground electronic dance scene since the nineties. She’s paid her dues on the DJ circuit, lugging  record cases all over the world and if you ever needed proof of her prowess in the booth, it’s been documented in the past on labels like Kompakt. As a producer, she’s featured on the likes of Mobilee, and her own label Corresponadant, which itself is releasing a record a month today. Like I said, she doesn’t need an introduction, but she’s coming to Oslo, and after falling in love with the French DJs style last year during our “Into the Valley” pre-party, we’ve really been looking forward to inviting her back and couldn’t resist the temptation of calling her up to ask some questions about her DJing, her productions, the label, and André Bratten, but somehow we get sidetracked by food. It’s a Monday when I dial her up in her home in Cologne, and her buoyant French accent breaks through the receiver with, hello.

Hi Jennifer, how are you?

Like a Monday.

Were you playing over the weekend?

Yes, I was playing in Spain and if you don’t go to Madrid or Barcelona the situation for travelling in Spain can be such a nightmare as Iberia is not the most organised airline. You need to fly to Madrid and then you have to wait for hours to get on a little plane to fly to Gijon. But it was all worth it as the party was really nice.

It’s a shame about the travelling, because it’s such a lovely country.

Yes, totally! I went for a walk on the beach and it was beautiful but I have to say that I’m more an Italy girl than a Spain girl. Sorry (Laughs)

Do you go to Italy often?

Yes, Uh now you’ve got me on the subject of Spain vs. Italy. I actually don’t like Spanish food that much. I always find it’s really heavy, and you really need to know the good places, to find good food. For example when you go to Sonar, and you don’t know Barcelona, you’ll eat like shit the whole week. It’s all really greasy and In Italy you can eat almost anywhere and it’s way more delicate. But I’m half Italian so maybe that’s why, (Laughs)

We had this conversation with André Bratten, because we are really good friends. We made a list of best countries for food and Spain was not in my top ten.

I’d be interested to hear what André’s top ten was. 

Well he tried to squeeze Norway in there, but I was like ‘hello dude’. I mean you’re very cute and we love you, but this is really not going to work.

Japan and Israel came first and then Italy and France and also Cambodian and Vietnamese food. I just came back from Japan when we had this conversation and I had the best dinner of my life, I nearly cried. It’s one of the best sushi places in Tokyo, but it was like 200 Euro per person, and that’s where I nearly cried (Laughs)

And speaking of André, how did you get to know each other?

I just bought the ‘Be a Man you Ant‘ album, and I was totally flushed by it. More by the tracks that were more electronica and slow compared to the dance floor hits that were Aegis and Be a Man you Ant. I wrote to him and told him I really liked the album and that I was running a label called Correspondant. We have this annual compilation and it’s a mixture between, artists from the Correspondant family and crushes that I have in the year, and for that reason I got in touch with him and was hoping he’d have a track for us. The communication came direct. We started exchanging emails and I booked him. And then it was love at first sight.

Trommer and Bass was such a big hit too.

Yes, I still play it. It’s one f those tracks: you know it’s a hit, but without all those tricky things of a hit. A hit can only be played for a certain amount of time and then it gets washed out. Trommer og Bass took like six months before Dixon, Harvey or Seth Troxler played it, from the release. It totally grew on the dance floors. I remember I played at this festival and everybody was playing the track suddenly, and it was in June and the compilation came out in March.

Have you heard Gode yet?

Yes, it’s brilliant. Everything he does is brilliant.

He’s incredibly talented.

And not only in a creative way, but also in a nerdy production way. When we got Trommer og Bass, I wrote to him and asked; ‘hey can we get a premastered version, because the version you sent has a compressor and limiter on it.’ He wrote back to me saying no it hasn’t, ‘that’s the premaster actually.’ The sound was so powerful; the sound was so big. I sent it to the sound guy that masters at kompakt and he wrote me back directly saying; ‘what the hell, who’s that’.

You’ll be following André with a dj set on Friday. Do you ever adapt your set to accommodate a live show?

Not really. Sometimes I plan a little bit of what I’m gonna do, and when I’m there it depends on how many people are there. I know André plays this type of Polygon Window kind of thing at the end of his set at the moment. I don’t play as hard, so I’m probably gonna start with an intro to try and change the vibe. I prepare a lot at home and I always think about other possibilities. There is what I like to do, and then if the setting is not perfect for that I adapt a little bit.

Are you still predominantly a vinyl DJ?

No. I do buy a lot of vinyl and I do go to a record store once a week and I encode a lot of stuff. I’m 42 now and I’ve played since I was twenty. I did carry vinyl around enough for a lifetime. I know people are having this vinyl over digital fight, but I find it so stupid. As a label we produce vinyl and always will, the idea that the only thing remaining is a mp3 on a cheap hard drive is too sad. Laurent Garnier plays digital; Barnt plays digital; Job Jobse plays digital. It doesn’t mean that they are less talented than before. Still I think it’s important to dig, because it gives your selection character, but I don’t believe it’s important to carry 25kgs of vinyl every weekend.

I ask, because when you pack vinyl it also limits the direction a night like this can go I assume?

Yes, and many times my bag got lost. I remember days when I was in my hotel room burning CDs because my records never arrived. I had to download everything I had in my record case by memory. Burning CDs for 5 or 6 hours; that’s something you don’t want to go through.

Well that’s why technology advances in the first place, to make things easier for us, right?

Yes, and I had huge back problems and they’re all gone now. I would go to a set with one of those big metal record cases without wheels; you know the ones we had in the nineties. I was carrying two of those.

Didn’t you have the luxury of the guard carrying your cases for you? 

No. That goes with the position of woman in the electronic scene. (Laughs). I had to carry them alone. Sometimes it was really crazy, and I would pick them up from the belt, and go out to the lobby of the airport, and the promoter would greet me, but he would never offer to carry my cases. I would walk to the car, and would think; is there a moment he’s gonna offer to carry my cases? (Laughs)

I carried them for a while, so I’m really happy now when I can carry three USB sticks, a computer, and an external drive as a backup in case something happens.

While we were trying to set up this Interview, your manager mentioned that you were currently in the studio. What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m trying to finish remixes, but the problem is that the label is taking up a lot of space in the time that I have in the week. So it’s going really slowly. Right now I’m trying to finish a remix for some artists for the label. I won’t tell for whom, because if it doesn’t happen, it sounds a little bit stupid. (Laughs) I’m also just playing around to see if something happens that I eventually want to bring out. I always consider myself more of a DJ than a producer. I know I want to make music more than I did before. Before I was really focussed on the DJ part, but I don’t want to stress with that.

You mention that your work a lot with the label. Does it distract a lot from making music, when you have to check emails and that type of thing?

Yes, that’s why it’s so very difficult to make music. I have a very good label manager and we are getting on a better rhythm that would allow me to shut down all communication for two days. We produce one record a month, and that’s quite a rhythm, but we don’t live in the same city, so that always makes things difficult.

Are you still based in Cologne?

Yes, but we are leaving in July. To Berlin.

Is that for accessibility? 

Yes, because the label manager is there and the booking agency is based there. And I also have a lot of friends there. More than I do in Cologne. My wife and I just want to move. The social life is much more interesting there. When I was living in Paris, I was very involved in the queer scene and, without any disrespect; the queer scene in Cologne is terrible (laughs). So I’m also looking forward to taking a bigger part in the Berlin queer nightlife.

Getting back to being a label boss. How has it influenced your music and your sets? 

I think it made me a better DJ, because you learn to listen to the music differently. I can feel that in my selection. It’s getting more into a direction that’s weirder. I actually have a selection now called weirdo, because I can’t really classify it. It’s House, but it’s not House; it’s Techno, but it’s not Techno. That comes from the label. Most of the things in there are things from my label, or things from Discodromo records or things from Optimo, which are leftfield and Techno at the same time. This has really shaped by my work at the label.

Do look for something that could both work on the dance floor and work on playing a record at home, for instance?

Yes, some tracks can cover both, and I actually like those. You know, on a big sound system it will totally destroy the dance floor, but at home it’s not aggressing you. That’s the case with the Mr TC release of Optimo tracks. It has this indie mood to it, which is quite suitable for home, but the bass is quite massive so it’s also quite danceable.

Almost like André Bratten’s music. 

Yes, exactly.

It’s funny that you mention your taste in music, because recently I saw one journalist describe your sets as experimental Techno. Do you care to weigh in on that? 

The description of my sets in the last twenty years is quite weird. First of all, I got this big sticker on my back which was minimal or Tech House, because of releasing music on Mobilee and releasing music on Crosstown Rebels, and everybody forgot that as a DJ I’m more of a Clone girl. This sticker on my back followed me for many years. I play so many different things. I play Chicago house classics. I play left field stuff. I’m not such a big fan of trying to pencil what genre will fit. I can play slow stuff’ I like some Berghain stuff; and I also like MCDE. In a two or three hour set I like to jump from one to the other. It can really go from Techno to House, from House to the weirdo folder.

Can you give us an example and give us a little preview of your set at Jæger on Friday?

I got some remixes from Lena Willikens that she did for Golf Channel. The track is really making me crazy.

She was at Jæger last weekend actually.

Yes, I know. I really like her. We are starting a party together called nicotine, because we both like to smoke a lot….

I also finished a compilation that would be finished in June so I guess probably some Correspondant stuff like the new Man Power, and a new Vox Low. I also got a as promo a new Digitalis and there is a fantastic remix with Roman Flügel who is also one of my favourite producers and remixers, so that might also make it’s way to Jæger. Also Benedikt Frey who is producing outstanding stuff at the moment and a lot of stuff from Dark Entries probably.

Maybe we should not give too much away, and leave some surprises for the audience on Friday

I’m really looking forward to coming to Jæger and hanging out, and this is my last gig before I finally go on holiday, so I’m really going to enjoy it.

Excellent, we’ll try our best to get you into that holiday mood.

 

Feeling good with Fredfades

Fredfades is a prolific talent. An artist, a producer, a DJ, a facilitator and a label boss, he has his fingers in a host of pies, while maintaining a regular 9-5 throughout. A founding member of the Mutual Intentions franchise, his musical projects extend from producing records for the clan including Ivan Ave, solo records, a host of collaborative projects like those with Jawn Rice and Tøyen Holding.

In the past year alone he’s released a solo record, a collaborative record with Sraw, a Tøyen Holding record and oversaw a host of Mutual Intentions releases, all while DJing regularly in Norway and abroad. With the increasing popularity of Tøyen Holding, Fredfades has also become a household name in Norway, syphoning some of the group’s open-minded fans into the world of electronic music, and specifically House. 

Alongside his other efforts, Fredfades has positioned Mutual intentions in a unique position in Norway and beyond as a label, whose bread and butter is in Hip Hop, but whose musical exploits go into the farthest reaches of the dance floor and even Jazz. Alongside an increasing popularity for club music Fredfades star has risen with his classic-leaning House aesthetic finding the ears of new audiences everywhere. 

His latest record Caviar showcases his mastery of vintage synthesisers and drum machines alongside a knack for effervescent melodies and accessible arrangements. The album, like his previous records, straddles that elusive gap between the functional and the approachable, where they can exist both in the club space and a set of headphones. 

He’s just about to play Trevarefest in Lofoten when I call him up. “The weather up here can be pretty crazy, but this year it was alright, especially the first day which was amazing.“ he says. Trevarefest precedes his upcoming appearance at ØyaNatt for Jaeger on Wednesday in what is already a busy summer for the DJ. Between playing, making records and his efforts with Mutual Intentions he still has to maintain his day job and it’s at his computer I find him at this pursuit when we talk. 

*photos by Christopher Næss

What is your day job, is it still graphic design?

Kind of. I studied graphic design, but at the time there was nothing like UX. I changed jobs last year, and before that I worked for a company that does a lot of apps, for Norwegian and international companies. I’ve been doing that for 11 years. 

When you mentioned the work you do, some things kind of fell into place for me, because there’s quite a visual and physical component to the merch and extra’s you and Mutual Intentions produce; From the packaging on the vinyl to things like the silk head scarves. What’s in those kinds of things personally for you and how do you think it contributes to what you do musically? 

Yes I mean designer is my profession, and it’s kinda been all the way back since 2008 ish. But for the past twelve years I’ve been working non-stop with technology and user experience. I’m a very practical person, and that’s easy to see in my daily work as a designer/UX guy. I’m about solving problems, not designing in a way that creates problems, as some people choose to do.

 When it comes to our label and merch, I still don’t do much myself, we use Hans Jørgen Wærner (our in-house designer) and hire various external designers, and I do some very strict art direction and feedback with these designers/illustrators to get the most out of them and maintain the loud and clear way of design and communication that I do believe we (our label) tend to have as the only design principle/consistency across our projects. 

But to answer your questions properly: most people don’t have a record player but still like to support the artists they listen to. That’s why we spend a lot of time making nice products for all listeners, and not only record collectors and deejays.

I think I’ve asked you this before, but how do you find time for the music and everything around it, and manage to be so productive?

I just always make music on the weekends. I think it started out when I grew up. I lived in a very small apartment with my father and I was never comfortable making music when he was there, so I just did it when he was working on Saturdays and travelling.

What kind of music were you making when you still lived with your dad?

When I first got into it I started producing Hip Hop. I bought the SP303 – that was the first sampler – in 2005. Then I bought the MPC the year after and then in 2007, I got the SP1200, that’s when I really started making beats.  

I assume that you were still learning how to operate the machines back then, but if we return to the present, when you do work on music, are you working to get a song out each time you touch these machines or are you still exploring creatively?

How I started making beats was very primitive in terms of the process. It was always about over-dubbing. I would start out with some samples and then some drums, and overdub with some samples, and then overdub again with something else.

I never had a proper soundcard (used to capture the sounds on computer recording software). So I always arranged and mixed everything in the boxes, which meant that I had to make everything sound nice before I sampled it and then hit play on the MPC (sampler)

It’s not until recently – probably 2018 – that I had a proper soundcard with multiple inputs. So now I work very differently. It’s kind of a more jammy approach to making music. I make rough drafts, with like six layers of sound and then I just dump it into the computer and open stuff later on and if I like it when I hear it later on, then I get to the actual production. 

Then you must be working on songs all the time at the moment, and from the outsider perspective it seems you are in this very productive creative period. 

Actually, I feel like I’m producing less. I’m definitely doing more sketches. I do hundreds of demos, but I only set a few aside for working on properly. 

With all these projects you’re constantly working from Tøyen Holding, to your solo stuff and the collaborative projects like with Jawn Rice, do you know what you’re working on from the moment of inception or do you only consider that part when you’re opening up one of these “demos”?

I never have any plans for my music, I just make it. For example, when I saw I had a few solo songs finished, I decided to put them together in a mini album. If I would have six or seven songs with Jawn, maybe we will finish a record. With the Tøyen Holding stuff, there’s a goal to work towards, like an actual Rap album with 18 songs. 

I guess the process is very different from making a Rap record to making a Fredfades record?

Yeah, the Tøyen Holding stuff is completely sample based. It’s not about composing or producing, it’s about having the backdrop and rapping over it. 

Do you feel like you have to be in a particular state of mind for working on music in general and does it differ for different projects?

I only make music if I’m feeling good. I’m not the type of person that gets inspired by stress or emotions. I’m always positive when I’m in the studio, it feels fun to be there and I always have a good time. 

Out of all these projects, it seems that Tøyen Holding has hit a nerve. Why do you think it’s so popular at the moment, and do you think it spills over to your other projects?

Yeah, I think it helped my Caviar album a little bit. Previously, it’s been a bit hard to sell the House releases in Norway, but this one went extremely well. I think a big part of it is because people know me from the Tøyen Holding project. I also think that club music has become very commercial and it’s a very normal thing to say you are enjoying Techno music and House music, which it was not 5 years ago. 

Between all these elements that you experience working with Mutual Intentions, between Hip Hop, dance music and even Jazz, what do you think is the main draw these days?

Our label has always been hard to grow as a label, because we have too many hats on. For us to put out Hip Hop music in Norway is definitely easier than to put out electronic music. Rap is the world’s biggest genre, so it will always appeal to more people than electronic music.

As I said, I also feel that electronic music is more commercial. It splits the scene in two; the people like myself, who tend to believe that I understand the history of the music and on the other hand you have the people who do festivals and spotify playlists, who mixed what we would consider genuine with what we consider sell-out. In my opinion the festivals should be responsible for teaching people about proper music, but sometimes it’s just “babes” in black leather bikinis playing 150 BPM techno.

Yeah it seems like it’s become about aesthetics rather than musical content, because everything is so determined by social media, good looking people playing terrible music and it’s spilled over into the clubs, especially the big room kind of places.

How I see it is people just know how to sell themselves, jump on the wave, and use it to generate money, or attention or whatever they’re seeking, and it’s not about the music. 

Of course, it’s a subjective matter. I just feel that together with the whole genre becoming commercial, problems (if you want to call it that) will appear.  

Let’s talk about Caviar for a bit, because as you say it is a club record, but it’s also something that is more accessible than your average House record, because of the vocals and the nature of melodies.  Was that a conscious decision on your part?

Not really. I like to DJ a lot and  play club music, but whenever I make music myself, it tends to be more introverted and laid back, which is more natural for me. I’ve always used jazzy chords and I make mellow music and it affects the way I think. I’ve never seen myself creating bangers. Some of them will be 128 BPM but they would still be a bit more mellow. 

There’s the definitive bridge in your music between Hip Hop and House, which reminds me of the early 90s and late 80’s when these things were a bit more interchangeable. Are  you trying to bring these two worlds together in the way you approach your own music?

No, it was never my intention. I guess it’s just where I came from. The very first House songs I liked were sample based, just drums and some loops, but after a very short time, I figured out the songs I really liked were composed and produced. 

Can you give me an example?

I think it was when I first discovered Larry heard and realised he didn’t sample anything. That’s when I really got interested in electronic music. That was the first thing I loved.

Was there any overarching  musical theme to Caviar, or was it simply the period that they were made in?

It was made over a couple of years. The way I did this, I had this playlist with all these other songs, and I tried to divide them into two different projects, where I prioritised the best cuts and spread them over two records. So I have another finished ready, which sounds similar because it was all from the same time.

Why did you decide to put out two mini records instead of just one for Caviar?

I mean – it’s not two mini records, I just had so much music that it made sense to turn it into several projects. It’s already 8 tracks on that Caviar album, which is a lot for the format, if you know what I mean? Some friends even wanted me to release them as classic 12″s/EP’s with only four songs on each release. But I kind of like to give as much value as possible to the customers that buys my music, and a lot of the music I make is kinda introvert and not very clubby, so it’s natural for me to think that it will be consumed more in an “album listening context ” rather than having the songs ending up played by DJ’s in clubs. That’s why I felt that it made sense. I’ll probably do the same with eight more songs, then go from there over to a more “Maxi-EP-focused” approach. 

So, was there any creative impulse that fed into these two projects, something like a synthesiser or a sound?

I really enjoy this sound from Italy and the UK from the mid-nineties, where they just used the stock sounds of the synthesiser. So when I buy a synthesiser, I just factory reset it, and I don’t create too many patches or stuff. I think it’s fun to use the ready-made stuff. I really like the references to the classic patches. That’s why I like these Italo and British records from the nineties, because it all just refers to the machines. 

In terms of writing the music, how much do the machines dictate the direction your songs take, or do you have a preconceived idea that directs you to specific machines?

When I do hiphop stuff, I like to sequence the beats I make on the SP1200 inside the SP1200’s sequencer. But when I do use that sampler for House music, I prefer sequencing the sounds stored inside the SP from an external sequencer, which in my studio would be my Sequentix Cirklon or my MPC 3000. I always work very layer based, because that’s where I come from. It always made me approach music production in a very primitive way. Sometimes I copy my sequences around and reprogram and arrange it slightly on the hardware sequencers first, but when it’s time to actually produce and process and arrange the music, I usually disconnect my Mac from my studio setup and work with headphones in Ableton and might then go back and hook it back in the studio setup if I would need another layer or sound or something. I’ve been making beats on the MPC 2000, the 2000 XL and the 3000 since probably back in 2007. 

This record, like your others, also features a ton of collaborators. Was there any reason you wanted these people on this record, and what do you usually look for in collaborators?

I feel really confident composing the foundations of the songs, the grooves, the chord progressions and stuff, but I often struggle with, for example solos. So I use people like Arthur (Kay) on my records. Otherwise it’s just random people that have been in the studio, where we’ve been drinking beers and making music together.

What about the vocalists, because a lot of them are American?

Yeah, they are all American. One of them is MoRuf from Jersey, he’s one of my favourite rappers. It was the first time for him rapping on a House song. The other guy is just somebody I stumbled across on instagram. His name is Kristian Hamilton, and he’s an extremely talented musician. 

While we’re on the subject of collaborations, I really want to talk about the SP1200 record. It’s something the geek inside of me really enjoyed because of the process of making the record. What planted the seed initially?

Sraw has always been an Internet friend to me, since back in the Myspace days. He was always one of the producers I really enjoyed listening to. We had so much similar equipment and similar interests. At some point, around 2012 (when we started working on this record), I decided to fly him over and hang out for a few days and create some beats. I’ve visited him in Sweden and we’ve just been going back and forth a few times. Obviously it wasn’t enough and as you can’t change the music digitally, we had to actually ship the floppy. 

Was there ever a vague idea of what the tracks would sound like completed, or was it a matter of getting the floppy back and it would be completely changed?

It was more about a layered approach, so we wouldn’t fuck up each other’s stuff too much. 

It was that raw beat-type feel to it, that really emphasises the character of the machine.

Yeah, you really don’t need that many elements with that sampler, because  you get so much free texture. It automatically sounds nice.  

Do you think you’ll do it again?

It took  a very long time to do that record. I don’t think we’ll do it again. I’m happy to release Sraw’s music on Mutual. It’s extremely great. 

 

ØyaNatt 2023 lineup and tickets announced

International and local acts fill the week in August as Jaeger yet again hosts two floors during ØyaNatt tin 2023 again. Tickets and lineup are up now.

When the sun sinks on Tøyen park and the last of the live acts echo down the hill we give in to nocturnal habits and make a beeline for the city where ØyaNatt starts to simmer and dir with the sounds of club life. In the annual tradition, Jaeger hosts two floors across the week including the Wednesday in 2023. Telephones, Fredfades, Teebee, Dave Clarke, Anémi, Chloé Caillet, Paramida, Slindre and Ellka join our residnets and residencies for a week of club music where we pull out all the stops and things like budget and common sense go out the window.

This year BigUP hosts a floor from the basement with a night of Drum n Bass and Jungle featuring a local treasure and a world-class drum n bass icon Teebee. We’ve got the Baron of Techno, Dave Clarke on the other side of Helt Texas and this Frædag showcase some rising stars in Chloé Caillet and Paramida alongside Oslo club concept, Lokomotiv. In a turn this year, Sunkissed takeover the sauna for the closing party with Elkka and a live performance from Vinny Villbass.

Here’s the full lineup and schedule:

09.08 – ØyaNatt x Bigup

Fredfades (NO)
Telephones (NO)
Teebee (NO)
Drunkfunk + Fjell + Tech + Simon Peter (NO)

10.08 – ØyaNatt x Helt Texas!

Dave Clarke (UK)
Anémi (NO)
Normann + Ole HK (NO)
Manu Rochina (NO)

11.08 – ØyaNatt x Lokomotiv x Frædag

Chloé Caillet (FR)
Paramida (DE)
g-HA & Olanskii (NO)
Slindre

12.08 – ØyaNatt x Sunkissed x Nightflight

Elkka (UK)
g-HA & Olanskii (NO)
Vinny Villbass (NO)
Sunkissed allstars (NO)
MC Kaman & Kash (NO)

 


Tickets are now available via our ticketco page and you can find more info about the events on our program page.

 

Percolating at BCR with Perkules

In the BCR triad of creators we’ve spent a lot of time focussing on two, namely Anders Hajem and Henrik Villard. Always at hand with the next release, a mix or some kind of musical news, Anders and Henrik are responsible for the majority of BCR’s output, seemingly, but not actually, neglecting their third, Perkules aka Jens Wabo. 

While Jens has been the quieter member of the group, his presence is no less trivial. As a founding member he orchestrates much of the label, events and now mix franchise, even while as an artist he favours a more conservative output. Apart from a couple of singles in 2021, he’s remained content with his duties behind the decks, and when he does release something he offers a little outlier to the norm both at BCR and any concurrent dance floor trends. 

His latest, “Show me Right” is an infectious exercise in crossing the lines between saccharine bubblegum melodies and functional House grooves. With a percussive palette going off-script in the Roland X0X annals and with uplifting chords issuing from some distant nostalgia, there’s a lot to appreciate and much that entices.

It’s only his third release, all of which come via the BCR platform, and challenges any generic status quo in terms of sound if any did indeed exist. It arrived on BCR last month and with more slated for the near future including a remix from Justin Cudmore for Perkules, there is much percolating on the Perkules front, so we took at as a premise to finally interview the third member of BCR and complete the triptych. 

We caught up with Jens during a sunny day in June, the week after launching the return of their Summer Residency, Sundaze at Jaeger. Like Anders and Henrik, Jens is a reserved character, a stoic quiet kind of person that seems mature beyond his years. We have much to discuss, and to me he’s still very much a blank slate, a piece of the BCR puzzle that will finally complete our purview of the Oslo label and events series. 

Where do you fit into the BCR universe?

Anders and Henrik are super ambitious in their artistic pursuits. They  are constantly in the studio making three to five songs a week, and their music keeps getting better and better. But my output is not that consistent, so it’s hard for me to have that as my main thing.

Were you producing music before you met them? 

Yes, but not that much. Anders and I had grown from mainly Rock music into (House) music together. I was kinda dragging him in. I make music 20 minutes at a time in these bursts of inspiration. 

Did you start off with DJing or were you still playing in bands when you started discovering House music?

I guess both. Bands were way before. When Anders and I met, he had recently bought some DJ gear and then we started playing around with that together. 

What sort of stuff were you playing in the band?

Anders played guitar and I played drums.

And in terms of music, what did it sound like and what were you drawn to?

Where I’m from, in a town called Tonsberg, which only has 40 000 people, having to play in a band is all about compromises. It was bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Turbonegro, and scandi-wave bands like Hellacopters. 

What  got you into electronic music?

I feel like anybody that has an interest in music, has some cool uncle figure that just pushed music in their direction. I have two older brothers like that. Since I was  5 or 6 years old, every christmas and every birthday I would get really cool CDs, like Discovery from Daft Punk and Melody A.M by Røyksöpp. But I had to re-access it when I was a little bit older.  

I guess when you were learning to play drums and as a teeneager you really got into a one track mind where you avoid anything that is not related to Rock music or drumming and it takes a while to rediscover music that was always there in the background?

Probably. I think around the time Daft Punk’s Random Access Memory was released, which was a good bridge into House music.

That record celebrated 20 years this year. What was it about that album for you?

The way I assess that album is that they tried to make a synthesis of all the records they sampled in the past. It’s kind of like George Duke, early Michael Jackson, and Chic with Nile Rogers on the guitar. 

And that got you into electronic music in terms of DJing or producing? 

I’ve always been interested in how things work. So, when I found Daft Punk again, I was straight into Youtube to find some videos of how they sampled and everything. It probably all came at the same time, the sample stuff and listening to “alive” and some of their DJ sets, even though it was more machine based. 

From there you slipped in House and deep House. 

Yes, and more commercial stuff. 

What kind of stuff?

That was early Spotify days, around 2011, Probably whatever was cool back then. I have no clear picture, but it was mostly deep stuff and French-wave too.

In the structure of BCR, how do you differ from those guys in terms of the music you DJ?

They are hungry in a way that I don’t feel I can match. If you are going to get that good in something like music, you have to be monotone in a good way. They have that, and I’m all over the place. Henrik is good at keeping his sound, in terms of building his identity as an artist. For me that goes beyond music. I have some other things I would like to do. 

That brings me to your last release, “Show me Right,” because that’s almost like a bubblegum track and very different from the other stuff coming via BCR. Was that a conscious decision?

Yeah. I feel like we’re privileged by having our own (platform) that we can experiment in that way. That song has been ready for release for over a year. As we started playing at Jaeger a bit more we tried to incorporate a bit more proto-House and synthesised-bass disco. I got super-inspired and tried to make something like that. It was hard to nail the sound. We had originally been in touch with Storken to help us release it on other labels, but that fizzled out, and we released it ourselves.

Which helps with expanding the catalogue of the label again.

I feel that the releases should have a strong identity, that’s most important for us. 

Listening to your next release, Echelon which has more in common with nineties  big-room House music, it seems you’re easily swayed into new avenues in music.

Exactly. It’s hard for me to do stuff that I’m not 100%  into and that shifts all the time.

Justin Cudmore is on that record too as a remix artist. How did you meet?

We never met, actually. We are super fan boys mainly. That’s our first identity and our second identity is producers. So, we just reach out everywhere. We wrote to him and he actually lived in Oslo for some time. 

Why did you want him to remix that track specifically?

Anders and I, when we got super into more club music, Justin’s Twisted Love EP was a top ten EP of all time. 

What’s your process as you start making music, what instrument kicks it all off?

Drums mainly or I find one specific song that I love and I just have to figure it out. I feel like when you listen to as much House music as we have to, it tires easily. You wouldn’t eat the same pizza for days in a row, for example. 

Do you think knowing how to play drums has an effect on how you approach electronic music?

Probably. If I’ve read an interview with a producer and in the interview it comes out that they play drums, it often makes sense to me. The music is mostly rhythmical instead of melody-based for me. It’s more important where the notes are located than what note they are. 

Playing at Jaeger as much as you do, especially in summer for your Sundaze residency, do you believe it has had an impact on the way that you DJ?

Yes. We felt more confident to look broader; I think that is one of the advantages of Jaeger, the musical identity is broad. 

Do you ever feel the pressure in the current climate to pitch up your tracks in a scene that is going faster and harder all the time?

When we started in 2019, that’s when it really started to happen and we were also more into Techno and faster stuff at the time. Then we thought let’s see what goes on in the other direction; to look in the cheesy department and see what’s the least cool thing and rather play that if the songs are good rather than being in a coolness arm-wrestle with those guys. 

And it’s not like they are not drinking from the same fountain. It might be faster and harder, but there’s always a vocal line and a melody. 

I agree. It’s 2000’s pop stuff with an acapella over a fast rhythm track. 

Does Sundaze have any effect in the way you’ve approached your sets?

What we talked about after last summer was, playing 5 hours every Sunday over summer is the best way to get better. We’re just trying to explore more, take more risks and trying to take advantage of having a consistent 5 hours together. When you play once a month you have to go back some steps every time. We can just start wherever we ended last week. 

Dorm!tory – Where the Homies play

We speak to the creators of Dorm!tory to talk queer theory, music and a safe space to play ahead of their event this Wednesday.

…And when the lights go out… “that’s when the Homies play”. 

Dorm!tory arrives at Jaeger this Wednesday. A new concept from some of the people behind Evrysome, Dorm!tory expands on the queer philosophies of its predecessor in an event that redefines queer as  “something more related to the fluidity of gender” in the club context. Its creators, Pedro Leal, Eduardo Miranda, Johannes Strand, Daniel John and Terje Dybdahl represent every corner of the globe as “a gay group inside the queer group and a queer group inside humanity.” From the Philippines, to Mexico, to Brazil to… Mysen, the group are a multicultural mix that cover a couple of generations of club enthusiasts. 

For their first event they’ve invited kindred spirits Por Detroit’s Perfect Lovers. As their Mexican counterpart Por Detroit reflects some of the same queer ideologies Dorm!tory will set out to adopt and alongside Bears in Space, Dick Dennis, DJ Brødskive, globaldrama and O/E they’ve amassed a musical lineup that will soundtrack Dorm!tory’s conceptual designs.  

We met the creators behind the event on a rainy summer’s day in Jaeger’s bar where they spread themselves over a couple of chesterfield sofas. Besides Terje Dybdahl (Tod Louie / Dick Dennis), introductions are necessary before they dive into the creation of this new concept.

“In the queer discussion masculinity is a topic that is outside of the identities that are inclusive, because of how toxic masculinity has become through the years,” according to the creators and they hope that the event will be a “solution for the toxic masculinity that affects everything inside or outside the queer world.” They want men to take ownership of the topic of masculinity. Why “should we have the feminist do all the work” they ask as they seek to create an “event that can bring back masculinity and men as the focus group,” which they then hope will add to the discussion of “new perceptions of gender and patriarchy.”  

All of this happens in the abstract, and for Dorm!tory to succeed it needs to be a party. The name reflects “something sexier and kind of secret” to appeal to their audience which still include gay men in every hue of the rainbow spectrum to a point where it can include “straight men that enjoy other men’s company.” 

They want to “build an infrastructure where we can all thrive and dance with each other” even if you fall between the gaps of every identity group out there. The collective hopes Dorm!tory will be that space where the exclusivity of certain events and spaces would be negated. 

For the youngest generation that might have “lost something, especially with covid” in what was already an era fraught with minefields in social interaction this is more important than ever for the group. “Growing up with social media,” in the way that this generation has, there’s a “different way of approaching people.” There’s an inherent “scepticism” which has only hardened with the “social isolation” we encountered with covid. As a group they hope to create a space where it’s “ok to just have a chat with someone” without the judgement that is taken at a superficial value through something like Grindr.

“At the end of the day we are humans with different needs and the friendship and the connection is most important.” Dorm!tory seeks to have a truly democratic space where you can stand “shoulder to shoulder” with somebody different, and there’s no better place for that than the dance floor in their opinion. 

In that context the soundtrack plays an important role and as such they’ve decided the programming at this party will definitely be rooted in the 70’s and 80’s; “First and foremost disco and house from the eighties.” They’ll look to “gay icons” like  “Patrick Cowley and Sylvester” for inspiration, paying homage to the roots and early “history of house music and queer culture.” They’ve assembled a host of DJs to relay that message for the very first session with even somebody like long-time Dick Dennis favourite, O/E abandoning his stoic Techno uniform for some 80s hi-nrg disco. 

They’re especially “honoured, having Perfect Lovers and Victor Rodriguez” from the queer concepts “Por Detroit” and “Bears In Space” from Mexico City in L.A. The booking happened almost as a “calling from the universe somehow.” On top of that, the burgeoning Oslo queer- and ballroom phenomenon Globaldrama and the established DJ Brødskive start a very busy billing with the incorrigible Dick Dennis completing the lineup across two dance floors. 

In what they describe as a “celebration of the night,” at the apex of the witching hour they’ll go completely dark in the basement, simulating the situations of collective dormitories where the Homies play, when the light turns off. It’s an opportunity to “explore each other blindly and not be judged by appearances,” and even “break the rules” a little. 

With so much of the queer scene being infiltrated and co-opted by a straight majority, it’s important for Dorm!tory to retain some of that rule-breaking and non-conformist ideologies that permeated queer culture from the start. “Dorm!tory doesn’t assume the queer identity as an umbrella, but we take the demand of people who are escaping out of that umbrella.”

Swan song with Deadswan

We discuss safe zones, being provocative, Oslo’s queer scene, everything about satan and sex, and the legacy he leaves behind, as Deadswan bows out of the DJ booth.

Reidar Engesbak is the absolute anathema to every pearl clutching conservative out there. He is a queer artist that has re-appropriated every stigma middle-establishment could throw at him and co-opted it in a provocative creation that is part politics, part performance, and consumes every fibre of his being. It imbues his many different guises; Deadswan the DJ, Enegesbak the journalist, Reidar Deadswan, the eternal club kid, and when we go further back, Genitalia and Sadomaoistan too.  

For over thirty years, he’s been a pillar of non-conformity on Oslo’s queer scene (although he’s originally from Bergen) with some confluence between the extended LGBTQI+++ and DJ scene, pre-dating even some of Oslo’s most established selectors. His club nights Strictly Kinky and Iconoclastic, live on in infamy today, while his progressive politics continue to find an outlet through the written word as one of the leading voices of Norway’s LGBTQI++ magazine, Blikk. At the height of his notoriety, performances as part of Genitalia shocked and caused outrage as he and his peers paved the way for the next generation of queer people. 

At the heart of all these different projects that Deadswan’s created over the years is something that is “always sex positive and always very queer” and in terms of music this would be captured in “dirty samples and raunchy sex stuff” and include “everything that is about satan and sex.” 

Strictly Kinky would give queer people their first space in Oslo; Iconoclastic would brandish banners admonishing any form of facism; while Genitalia would rebuke any form of homophobia. In one of Genitalia’s most notorious exploits, they doused Eurovision star and “pray-the-gay-away” advocate Carola in beer during their performance at Rockefeller. The incident caused quite the furrore, leading Reider to write an op-ed piece explaining the group’s actions through Blikk, incidentally laying the foundation for a career in journalism through those very pages.

Today he’s one of the elder statesmen of the scene and he’s more likely to start a conversation than cover an unsuspecting audience in blood (more on that later). While by his own account he has “mellowed” with age, he remains politically active and continues to be a visceral voice and face on the leading edge of the queer scene. His provocations have tempered with sobriety and married life and in his husband – “who’s handled so many of my quirks” – he’s also found “a rock”. And with this new clarity in his life, he’s decided that there will no longer be any Deadswan to direct some of his energies in the future.

As of the 1st of July 2023 during a DJ appearance for Olle Abstract’s LYD, Deadswan will be laid to rest, the final swan song and a celebration of one of the most thought-provoking and exciting DJs to emerge from Oslo. Why is he choosing to bring it to an end now? I met up with Reidar over a reserved coffee to talk about this and the impressive career and legacy he leaves behind as he retires the moniker. 

Deadswan: Let’s get one thing straight. I’m hopeless when it comes to years and you know, remembering. So we have to wing it. 

Mischa: That’s fine because what I want to start off with was something recent; the fact that you’re stopping Djing. Why?

Deadswan: I don’t know. I’m at this place in my life where… Okay, this is what my therapist said: “You need to find out who you are without the DJ thing.” When I get invites, it’s always as Reidar Deadswan. I think I’ve felt kind of trapped in working this face on the gay scene. So I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do. 

Mischa: And what’s that?

Deadswan: Move out of the city. We have a house in the country. I really liked my own company. I’m not afraid to be alone. 

Mischa: Earlier, you talked about being provocative. Have you always been provocative; even as a kid growing up in Bergen?

Deadswan: When I was growing up at school they tried to bully me, but you can’t bully me because I always knew that I was different. Every week on Fridays for instance, we had this class hour where you could bring music and play it to the classroom. I always had to play last, because then the rest of the kids could leave. It was just me and the teacher playing new wave. They didn’t get me at all. The teacher got me. 

Mischa: Was music an important part of being provocative right from the beginning?

Deadswan: Yes, I remember when I discovered Soft Cell. That was an eye-opener for me.  That’s always been my group. 

Mischa: From the first album, the Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret? 

Deadswan: Yeah, that one and before that it was Adam and the Ants. I went on a school trip to Oslo and they had this shop in Grensen; where they sold t-shirts and bondage gear and stuff.  I came home with an Adam and the Ants t-shirt with bondage imagery, and my mother was like,” what?” I  wore that to school and my bedroom walls were full of Adam and the Ants and then Soft Cell.

Mischa:  Tainted Love would have been huge, though. That was in the charts. 

Deadswan: Oh, yes. It was a huge success. People write them off as they were one hit wonder but they had hits. I mean it was really memorabilia and non-stop erotic dancing –  which is picked to be the first ecstasy record – I never heard anything like it. 

Mischa: So when you are playing this kind of stuff to the kids in the school, even tracks we consider hits today, they still thought it was weird?

Deadswan: They didn’t understand anything. 

Mischa: Following these acts, were you just listening to the music or were you also trying to emulate them in terms of how they presented themselves, like what they were wearing?

Deadswan: Yes, I went to school with my homemade bondage trousers, based on Adam Ant. You know, obsessed!

Mischa: At what point do you think like;  okay, I’m playing all this music. Let me try and put it together as a DJ set.

Deadswan:That was when I moved to Oslo. Because when I moved to Oslo, I got involved with queer activism, and we had this group called the pink rebels. We were running around at night, spray painting walls and having demonstrations.

And then we started taking over London pub (Oslo). One of the guys who worked there, who was also in pink rebels, got the opportunity to use the back room. It was an empty space so we got to make our own club there, called Shame Club. That’s where I started DJing. 

That was during the whole Madchester wave. So, it’s Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and British dance music like S’ Express, but of course Georgio Moroder, Donna Summer, Sylvester. 

Mischa: Was there a big scene in Oslo for that kind of music back then?

Deadswan:  No, we were one of the first places to play Acid and British Dance, but I always mixed it up with stuff like Deutsche American Freundschaft, Nitzer Ebb and Front 242. 

Mischa: Was there a bit of a queer scene happening in Oslo at that time? 

Deadswan: No queer scene. It was just the gays. Even there, we were the weird ones, we were the queers and they were the gays.

So then we started Strictly Kinky. Trying to cater to the more alternative crowd, but without sexuality being the main issue. So, we knocked on So What’s (where jaeger is today) doors. 

They were really reluctant. Because we had already started this group called Genitalia, which was doing performances. So they were like, “we’re not sure if this fits here,” but we were regulars so they knew us. 

They gave us a Sunday during Christmas and we redecorated the whole club. We built a huge vagina that you had to walk through, which we could never do today because he was made of plastic. If there had been a fire we would all perish. (laughs). We covered the walls in anime japanese porn.We made a real fetish club and people who dressed up got in for free. There were strictly no photographs allowed and we had performances, like a guy in the corner polishing boots. 

Mischa: It sounds like a torture garden.

Deadswan: Yeah, it was absolutely based on torture garden and it was a success. So What started giving us more dates, not like proper Fridays or Saturdays because it was still too alternative. But eventually, they saw that we could pull the crowd, and then we got very big headed. 

So we thought; “Let’s take this back to Bergen.” We rented a big pink bus and called it, “The magical Oompa Lumpa tour.” We filled it with freaks and drugs and went over to Bergen, where my parents were sitting on a patio looking down with a glass of white wine watching the freak show unfurl. 

Mischa: At what point do you start doing the iconoclastic stuff?

Deadswan: When So What closed we moved Strictly Kinky over to Kraftwerk, with Chris Lynch. And then after a while Little Wolf came along, So then that’s when we started, Iconoclastic. And then we moved it to Kill Your Ego.

Mischa: Was it a continuation of Strictly Kinky?

Deadswan: No, it was separate, it became more about the DJ. 

Mischa: This would have been around the time, or even before the time of our Electroclash became popular?

Deadswan: Yes, it kind of co-emerged.

Mischa : There was something in the air where people got tired of House and Techno. Did you go through the same thing? 

Deadswan: I didn’t get tired of it. It was more about looking backwards and finding the more obscure electronic sounds and movies. Liquid Sky was a huge inspiration for being weird and alienated, you know.  It was kind of tongue in cheek, but electroclash was still really frowned upon.

Mischa: Is that the kind of DJ style you always liked and preferred? 

Deadswan: Yes, I didn’t beatmix at all.

Mischa: When did that start?  

Deadswan: It started at Kill Your Ego, when I started playing with Lynch and Little Wolf, because they are really turntablist. I hung out there after hours iust playing and mixing and recording every night.  I could never beat mix on vinyl though. I have a huge library of CDs, and I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with it after Deadswan. (laughs)

Mischa:  At the same time you were doing Iconoclastic in Oslo, we  also had parties all around the world, especially in London, doing similar things, like Erol Alkan’s Trash. Was something in the air at that time for you? 

Deadswan: Yeah, We travelled to Nag-Nag a lot. I got to know Johnny Slut and Fil OK. Which was amazing because they were doing the same thing as we were doing. But the thing that differed Nag-Nag in London to Iconoclastic was everyone was speeding their tits off in Oslo. We brought over Princess Julia and we brought over War Boy and they were just shocked by the amount of drugs in Oslo. There was a kind of punk energy in the clubbing here.

Mischa: That reminds me of what you talked about earlier Genitalia. There was a very punk element to the performances that somehow also found its way on national TV.  From what I saw in a Youtube clip it was something like Club Kids doing sesame street. How did that happen?

Deadswan: We got this call from NRK and they said you want to come on an audition and I was like, no, I don’t want to be on national television. But we got there and dressed up like we used to, and we said:  “If we’re going to do this, we have to do it our way.”  I mean, they’re really strict, but they bent the rules for us. We did it for a year or something every Thursday. 

Mischa: What was the theme?

Deadswan: The theme was trend. We got sex-exploitation movies that we reviewed on air. We showed clips and then we talked over them. Describing what we were seeing and stuff. It was really trashy. It was kind of a talk show. Tongue and cheek, absurd. 

We got these really weird fan letters from jail from a guy who watched us religiously. He had this business idea that he would go to Germany and dig up all Nazi skulls and make them into piss pots and go to Israel to sell them.

I put this letter on facebook many years later and somehow that post ended up with this guy. So he sent me a message and befriended me. (laughs)

Mischa: Did he end up creating his business?

Deadswan: No, he didn’t. He had some issues, but he came out on the right side.

Mischa: Genitalia was a performance group, first and foremost however, was there a musical component to it?

Deadswan: Well, we got a record contract, and the guy who ran the record company also wanted to be our manager, and we were like; “what? This is weird”.  We didn’t end up doing that. 

Mischa: But you did end up in a musical group, Sadomaoistan. 

Deadswan: Yeah. But that was just the performance part.

Mischa. And what did that entail? 

Deadswan: Things like cutting ourselves…  On one occasion, I got this cleaning bill from Rockefeller because of that. Genitalia were Siamese twins, so we had these corsets joining us. And then we just got out our razors and started cutting each other.

This was at an AIDS benefit. Because we thought, “What’s the most scary thing that queers can experience?” Yes, sperm and blood! Nobody got it. We had such fun, but backstage was just full of blood so we had to pay for that.

I have this great picture of me with all the cuts. And then the photographer was “just one more, just one more” and I fainted. 

Mischa: And what did the organisers say, they were not happy?  

Deadswan: No. It was the same when we went to euro pride in Copenhagen. We were booked on the main stage and pride had become such a corporate thing. So we thought “let’s do something provocative.” The vocalist ate a lot of chilli con carne. And at the end of the show, we attacked him and – I’m not sure what we put into his mouth – but when he had to vomit, he vomited a rainbow flag.

The organisers came and took our badges, and ordered us to leave and “don’t come back!” We were always kind of more queer than gay. And we wanted to challenge the whole idea of this gay community thing. Sometimes with intentions and sometimes just for fun.

Mischa: I think people like you probably paved the way for a lot of what’s happening now especially in terms of being queer and being a DJ, but at the same time that kind of thing would not fly these days.

Deadswan: Yeah. The thing is, now, it’s all about safe spaces, you know. Everyone has this list of things you’re not allowed to do and we never had that. If we had any trouble, we had to deal with it. And I’m kind of worried that people are lulling themselves into this safe zone thing. There is no such thing as a safe space. You have to maintain it.

I think everybody should be woke, I can’t see the problem with that. If you have these kinds of strict rules; no homophobia, no transphobia, no racism, no sexism, you have to consider how you deal with it if it occurs. That’s where you have to have the focus. 

Mischa: Although you were in Sadomaoistan, you never tried your hand at music?

Deadswan:  No, I had always been a fan. I tried to go into the studio, but sitting listening to the same sound bites over and over and tweaking just bores the shit out of me. I always think that the best music has been made or someone is sitting making it now so i’m gonna discover it eventually. 

Mischa: Do you feel like the music that you played had to be an expression of who you are?

Deadswan: Yeah. That’s why I always loved everything with dirty samples and raunchy sex stuff. 

Mischa: What are you playing these days?

Deadswan: Yeah, that’s a question. I don’t want to say Deep House but I mean, I like epic, K-hole, tunnel stuff. I really like (I can’t say this,) Nina Kravitz. I mean what the fuck happened to her? I don’t understand but I really like her. I think it’s really hard to pinpoint what I play. I go back and forth. 

Mischa: Is there any period that stands out for you in terms of Djing?

Deadswan: Iconoclastic. Because we mixed everything up from, a-ha to Plastic Bertrand to Leila K to Kraftwerk. I remember DMX Krew was booked at Kill Your Ego. He played upstairs, and we had Iconoclastic in the atrium. He was just standing there looking up at us, and he was just; “what the fuck is this?” He did not get it at all. I think he came when we played “I’ve been losing” you by a-ha.

Then I wasn’t limited to beat mixing. But once you start beat-mixing, it’s really hard to get out of that loop. I was much more free when I didn’t beat mix. And then it becomes kind of like, you don’t want to fuck it up. So, I think that’s the drawback. 

Mischa: That brings me back to why you’re not DJing anymore. Is that part of the reason?

Deadswan: I’m not into the party scene anymore. Everything goes in at 140 bpm now. 

Mischa: I thought 140 BPM would have suited you?

Deadswan: Well, it’s the same as getting into black metal, if you really dive into it, you find the piece in there. And I guess that’s the same with the Techno that’s being played now, but I’m not really invested.

Mischa: That’s interesting. Because I thought this would have been the perfect time for a character like Deadswan to exist.

Deadswan: Yeah. Well you know like bands they always do come back so you never know, I just want to go out without this. I want to focus on other stuff. 

 

Flux takes over the basement in July

We give the keys to the basement to Flux Collective for every Friday in July.

This is what the sound in the basement is made for; machine music with designs on the bottom end and a dance floor. For one month in July, we’ll explore the soundsystem’s limits with a residency from the Flux collective. The Flux collective take over the basement for a whole month as Naboklage, Skodde, Anémi, and Bjerregaard bring their Techno concept to Jaeger with a host of friends and international guests joining the collective at Jaeger. Featuring appearances from Rove Ranger, DJ Broke, foufou malade, Nattl4mpe, Alsén, Betong, Take Kataka, The Unborn Child, Minus Magnus, Olav Eggestøl and BUGRUPPE90. 

With a host of international guests and a fair few local friends, Flux make the basement their home in the first of a Frædag x Flux joint venture. Frædag keep it cosy in the Gården with g-HA presiding over the weekly residency with guest appearances by Vinny Villbass, Mental Overdrive and Hetty while Flux shake the foundations down in our subterranean liar.

You can find all the events on our programme page.

Musikkfest 2023 – guide to Jaeger’s stage

Musikkfest 2023 is upon us with Jaeger hosting a stage from our gården featuring a whole bunch of artists and DJs. Here’s our guide to Jaeger Oslo’s stage.

With so much going on during Musikkfest 2023 it is always hard seeing some of your favourite acts, and harder still seeing new acts that might become some of your favourite acts. So, we thought we’d make it a little easier on you with a guide to the artists we’ve got playing on our backyard stage in order of appearance. You can check out the full lineup here. 

True Cuckoo (13:00 – 14:00)

Synth-wizard, You Tuber and “happy electro” button twiddler, True Cuckoo makes his second appearance on Jaeger’s stage. With a big international following of 160k+ subscribers on YouTube, Cuckoo is famed for his synth bleep jams, his invaluable tutorials on complex synthesisers and groove boxes, and for his unusually recognisable, positive, bubbling electronic musical style, which has become a bit of a signature for this bearded synth ninja. With a successful LP in the bag from last year and a prowess for the stage, he’s adept skills extend beyond the internet too. Here is playing in the basement earlier this year:

Why Kai? (14:00 – 15:00)

Oslo-based Jazz ensemble, Why Kai has been a staple on our Musikkfest stage since as far back as we can remember. A live band with a hand on the pulse of a dance floor, elements of soul and funk imbue their meticulously honed orchestrations. Blending bold experimentalism with beatific melodies and chirpy rhythms, the quartet’s sound is uniquely Norwegian as technical ability and curiosity find accessible outlets. Their last album Deep Fishing is only a year old and well worth the dip. Why Kai? … Why Not?

Mutual Intentions (15:00 – 18:00)

Mutual Intentions are back in that sweet spot for Musikkfest at Jaeger and we’ve given them the run of the stage in what is becoming an annual tradition. The Oslo-music collective is a highlight in the city at the moment,  and  we can’t stop singing their praises. With live performances from Ivan Ave, Arthur Kay, Kristoffer Eikrem, DUMMY THICC and Sigmund Vestrheim interrupted by DJ sets from Stian Stu and the rest of the Mutual Intentions crew, Mutual Intentions have a busy programme this year.

Mutual Intentions’ star has been embedded in the firmament of Oslo’s music community and with a release schedule that simply won’t quit they have remained at the forefront of genres like Hip Hop and House, garnering an international audience in their efforts. Just this year they’ve released All season gear from Ivan Ave, the 3rd album from Tøyen Holding, and two albums featuring Fredfades. they are operating on another level, and the stage offers a rarefied glimpse of the extent of their musical reach. Here’s Ivan Ave doing his thing and here’s an interview with him from our archives.

LAFT (18:00 – 18:45)

LAFT are Håkon Vinnogg (Vinny Villbass) and Tomas Järmer (Motorpsycho). Combining their efforts they make House music with a penchant for the organic resonances from live spontaneity. Their bio reads: “Together they seek to explore functional dance floor communication built around unique improvisations. Their structural and compelling sound is carefully composed and expertly performed with real musicianship and thrilling rhythms at its core.” With Håkon’s established dance floor credentials and Tomas’ reputation for beating the shit out of a drum the pair have found a unique sound on their first record, New Objectivity. Have a listen:

Charlotte Bendiks & Nefertiti (18:45 – 19:45 & 22:00 – 23:00)

It wouldn’t be Jaeger without a DJ set or two and besides the Mutual Intentions’ interludes Charlotte Bendiks and Nefertiti will prime the dance floor during the first of two sets from the sauna. Charlotte Bendiks is back! The Tromsø native always conjures a vibe for the dance floor with her corporeal approach to dance music. Between Techno and House, and with a focus on the percussive rhythm, Charlotte Bendiks’ DJ sets are forged in the mystical impulsiveness of ritualism. She’s an established artist to boot with releases on the likes of cómeme and love OD.

Charlotte is not alone this time as she  joins forces with a DJ that has  been a feature in Jaeger’s booth fo late, Nefertiti. Building on those same rhythmical impulses as bendiks, Nefertiti takes them closer to home, indulging images of Africa as she combines euro-centric elements of House- and Techno music, with Afro-beat, GQOM and Amapiano. Together, Charlotte Bendiks and Nefertiti leave no course uncharted in dance music. Here’s Charlotte Bendiks doing her thing on Rinse FM:

Ost & Kjex (19:45 – 20:30)

Ost & Kjex (Petter Haavik & Tore Gjedrem) are a comic strip brought to life in 4D. Fuelled by a Dadaistic approach to music, art and life, they’ve drawn an international audience to their work with records on Crosstown Rebels, Solomun’s Diynamic and more recently Snick Snack Music. Snick Snack is the label Ost & Kjex, alongside Truls & Robin, have been dedicating all their time too. Featuring artists like Robert Owens to Øyvind Morken, the label is making waves here and across the seas, set in motion by Ost & Kjex LP, Songs from the end of the world. On stage however, Ost and Kjex continue to travel the world as a live act with stamps from Panorama Bar, Fabric, ADE, Sonar, Rex, and tons of other famous clubs and festivals smudged through their passports. Ost & Kjex bring an indelible energy to the stage as they channel the sounds of their vast discography into jubilant live shows. Here they are performing for Oslo Clubcast. 

Third Attempt (20:30 – 21:15)

As we’ve said in the past, the third time’s the charm for this young artist. Whether DJing or more likely, playing live, Third Attempt is now an established artist in his own right. His last record found it’s way out via the internationally acclaimed and scando-favourite label, Paper Recordings as they started highlighting the next generation of artists following in the footsteps of the likes of  Bjørn Torske and Rune Lindbæk. With affiliations to Tromsø and making his own mark in the landscape Third Attempt is a descendent of that legacy and one of the torch bearers for new electronic music in Norway. His productions utilise those live performative elements of Jazz, Soul and Funk and re-establish them in a progressive, House aesthetic.

 Karolinski (21:15 -22:00)

Karolinski is a force like no other. The artist and DJ approaches everything with a kind of unbridled enthusiasm that charges the air and touches eveybody and everything in its wake. Whether she’s DJing, playing saxophone, making remixes, producing, and most of all playing live, she arrives with a palpable energy. Last time she played live at Jaeger she literally rattled the very foundations with her bass-heavy set from the basement. Between Dub, Techno, Drum n Bass and House music, Karolinski’s touch knows no bounds. This will be her first live set at Jaeger in some time, so who knows where her musical inclinations will take us. Best to just strap in and enjoy the ride. Here are some possible clues from her recent discography.

 O. Blom (23:00 – 00:00)

O. Blom (previously Ra-Shidi) is back in the fray in Oslo and like her compatriot Charlotte Bendiks she has a proclivity for percussion. She’s starting to become a fixture again in the city after a brief stint in Bergen and while tempos have eked out to unattainable heights everywhere else, O. Blom has remained steady in her pursuits in finding that balance between the dance floor and musical enlightenment. Here she is in a cathartic mood for the most recent Jaeger mix.

g-HA & Olanskii (00:00 – 03:00)

Sunkissed residents and Frædag mainstays g-HA & Olanskii conclude proceedings for this Musikkfest. The DJ duo assume the position in our Sauna as we go from festival to club night. As two of the pillars of our little establishment, none know Jaeger’s dance floor better than these two veterans of Oslo’s clubbing scene. From Foot Food, established back in the days of Skansen by g-HA to every Friday at Jaeger, their combined efforts have laid the foundation for much of the city’s clubbing scene. g-HA & Olanskii are an event, a club, a DJ duo, and a musical authority for Norway.

Masterclass with Louie Vega

From his earliest days as a young DJ and enthusiast around the likes of Paradise Garage to his award winning work as one half of Masters at Work, Louie Vega is a House music institution today. We sat down with the DJ and artists between soundcheck and a set at Jaeger to talk about legendary sound systems, DJing as a 15 year old, MAW and the next  step in the Vega dynasty.

Louie Vega has played on some legendary sound systems throughout his career, especially when he was starting out. He was there during the dawn of the club sound system in New York, when people like Richard Long and Alex Rosner were designing some of the best sound systems for the likes of the Loft, Paradise Garage and Zanzibar. These places and systems would become the archetype for everything that we know today and inform much of what Ola and Jaeger’s been creating down in the basement over the years. 

Louie Vega is as much a disciple of these sonic prophets as he is the continuation for their work and legacy. He was there at the source and is one of the direct descendants of audiophiles like Rosner and Long and the DJs that made those sound systems great like Larry Levan and David Mancuso.

It takes a while for that to sink in as Louie darts between each speaker enclave in Jaeger’s subterranean sonic liar; his enthusiasm for a sound system has not tempered in the slightest. 

“That was a special time,” intones the New York DJ  through a smile, when I ask about those early days in New York. “Those were the pioneers and the ones who laid down the blueprint.” New York at that time was a mecca for sound system culture, and from the impromptu street battles (which Louie knew all too well) to the legendary clubs that were born during that time, we still hold in much esteem as the catalyst of our culture today. It was like the city “had 25 Ministry of Sounds,” according to Louie and it’s this legacy that still informs everything he represents today. 

“I’ve been around great sounding sound systems as a kid already,” elaborates Louie. He was “not even playing the clubs yet,” when he started “going to the clubs and listening to the DJs and absorbing” everything. He might have been half a generation too late for places like the Loft, but as soon as he could, he started going out to the likes of Paradise Garage with his older siblings. Louie recalls his first acquaintance with Paradise. “I was 15 when I got into the Garage because of my sisters. I went to a members-only night. That was the first time I saw Larry (Levan). I’ll never forget hearing all these great records like ‘street player;’ all these records that we love now, we heard them there early.”

At 15, Louie was already a veteran DJ, having started from the impossible age of 12. By his late teens he would be established. Hosting block parties around the Bronx from a young age –  ”I had a big soundsystem too; six stacks” – Louie started amassing followers in their thousands and by the time he got his first  shot at an established club, he “brought all the young kids’” with him. That led to his first residency at New York’s Devil Nest, and every Friday and Saturday night he would have the place packed. “I had 2500 – 3000 kids in the club at that time, I was only 19.”  Alongside the other established DJs of the time like David Morales and Tony Humphries, Louie was “the kid” and the honorific “little” stuck because of his relative age. 

Over the years Louie dropped the “Little” misnomer as he became one of the elder statesmen of House music and DJing during the late 1990s. As a solo artist and one half of Masters at Work with Kenny Dope, Louie Vega is a household name today within House music echelons and beyond. 

“How are the ears,” I wonder after all these years listening to these punishing sound systems. He says he’s been “lucky” that they’ve been holding up all these years, without much extra thought to protection – although he has an appointment to be fitted with earplugs soon. 

Louie’s unalienable American ability to engage and his ebullient character makes conversing a pleasure; a humility that’s down to earth. Throughout his career he’s become a monolith in House music circles, a true legend that stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan and one of the pivotal figures in bringing House music to the masses. “That’s what they say,” he says in a coy smile that suggests he doesn’t agree, but with 8 grammy nominations and one on his pedestal, Louie Vega has the accolades to validate that claim. 

He continues to be a giant in our scene today, with a legacy that spans generations and continues to hit a nerve even if it’s out of the influence of popularity. Judging from his social media he is always playing or on his way to playing somewhere and yet he still finds the time to release a record… or four. 

His latest, Expansions in the NYC is a quartet of records that celebrate his hometown and offers a birds-eye view of the sonic quality of the party-series that Louie operates under the same name. Elements of House, Funk, R&B, Afro, gospel and those omnipresent Latin influences converge on the extended LP with the help of some heavy collaborators. Moodymann, Kerri Chandler, Joe Clausell, Honey Dijon and many more assist in Louie’s love letter to New York city. It’s a family affair with the presence of his wife Anané and son Nico, really reinforcing the connections across twenty two classic House tracks and on Cosmic Witch things get eerily serendipitous as a song originally composed by Dwight Brewster.

“The crazy thing” says Louie “is Dwight Brewster, he wrote that song – and he was in my uncle’s band on the first album.“ That uncle is Héctor Lavoe of course; the latin crooner who worked with the likes of Willie Cólon and Fania All Stars in congress with a successful solo recording career. Between his uncle and his father, an accomplished musician in his own right, Louie found a firm foundation from which to build his own musical dialect. His formative years in music had cemented something early on for Louie. “When it’s around you,” he says of the music, “it instils itself in your brain and in your ears and you start developing.” 

It seems this has gone full circle in the Vega family, with Louie’s son now showing the same kind of potential for music as a younger Louie did. As the son of an accomplished DJ, Nico Vega used to follow his father and mother around the globe as a kid, joining them for the likes of their various Ibiza residencies and Miami winter conferences, where daytime events allowed the younger Vega to be around them as they worked. “It’s always been in his blood and in his mind,” suggests Louie, but it seems he’d been pretty reserved about exploiting the family business.

Although he played piano and guitar, he never showed much interest in his father’s home studio, ironically called Daddy’s Workshop. It was “not until I invited him,” that Louie says he saw some potential in his progeny. After hearing him play and programme keys in the studio, Louie gave his son an Ableton studio setup from which he could explore this latent talent further. Louie “started hearing bass-lines and beats, and I was like what is going on, this sounds like records I would play.” It ended in Nico Vega actually mixing down a track on Expansions in the NYC. “It’s amazing… He learnt it on its own,” beams Louie like any proud father would. 

Later that evening Jaeger’s basement is filling and people are starting to press closer to the front. The air seems suddenly charged with something. Towards the back, where there’s more space, a crew of younger dancers, have been breaking out some fancy footwork the entire night, but even they seem to turn their attention to the DJ booth as people cheer on the guest of honour. Louie, wearing what has become his signature wide-brimmed hat, cuts in the first track and sets off. 

The crowd is a heady mixture of young and old, touching on most of Oslo’s cultural sectors, much like Louie’s music touches on those eclectic sounds of New York’s diaspora. I remember Louie’s last appearance at Jaeger and it’s a very similar crowd and I brought it up with him during our conversation earlier. “When you go to my parties it’s a mix,” he says happily and he’s become aware of the generational spectrum that occupies his dance floors. “That’s the way it is now,” he agrees. “I get the parents and the kids, which is beautiful.” Some of the parties he plays in New York, still bring out those original faces that followed him from the Bronx into the city all those years ago. “They kept on following me wherever I would go,” he claims. “Even to this day, some people that come to see me play in the clubs, they were there 40 years ago, it’s crazy.“

The main difference between then and now however is that Louie has a lifelong career as a DJ and producer and when it comes to House music records, the name Louie Vega and Masters at Work has become synonymous with the genre and he maintains that position by staying relevant, with an incredible enthusiasm that just won’t seem to wane. Does he ever feel he needs to stay contemporary though?

“I’m doing my own thing, and the goal is to create your own lane,” comes his reply. He has dominated that lane for his entire career, and his sound has become so intertwined in the sound of House music it’s often difficult to extricate the name Louie Vega with House music. As a recording artist, he’s “dedicated 35 years” of his life to the genre and from the first record he did in 1988 to his latest that dedication has been determined and consistent. 

It all started innocently enough for Louie. He was still cutting his teeth in New York’s club scene, playing his records to the dedicated few he brought with him from the Bronx, when record labels started noticing his skill. It was still a time when label heads and A&R guys would be visiting clubs to hear what works and what’s hot. “They always wanted to know who’s new and who’s happening,” and Louie ticked all those boxes for Joey Gardiner, the A&R man for the legendary label Tommy Boy records.

“There’s this record that I picked from Minneapolis, called Running by Information Society,” recalls Louie about their first meeting. Running “became the biggest record of that club and when we got the band to perform there was a line around the corner.” Joey Gardiner sought to licence the record for Tommy Boy and with Louie’s predilection for the dance floor in mind, enlisted the DJ for remix duties on the record. “I never remixed a record,” thought Louie at the time, “what am I gonna do? Gardiner said; Louie… just come into the studio and tell me what you hear.” Suddenly all these elements that Louie hadn’t heard on the original jumped out at him from the mixing console. “I heard all this movement,” remembers Louie gesturing in the air.

“Next thing you know, that record became huge and from there things started growing. I did another one for them, ‘What’s on your mind,’ and that was a pop hit.” It was Louie’s first foray in touching the charts with a House track but wouldn’t be the last. 

“I was doing pop music,” insists Louie, “but trying to give it a little dance thing.” Working from little more than a drum machine a keyboard, pop artists like Debbie Gibson started enlisting Louie for remix duties, and when Marc Anthony eventually called for Ride on the Rhythm, the success and cross-over appeal of that record, would lunch Louie Vega into the upper tier of recording artists and make him a household name across the globe.

Everything coalesced with Ride on the Rhythm including Masters at Work. It was right around that time that he first met Masters at Work partner, Kenny Dope. Louie tells the story:  “I was in the studio  for six months, I wanted him to make beats for some of the records and he ended up working on a lot of it. From there I was like we got this thing that feels good, let’s make a record from scratch and we did that Ride record on the B-side of Ride on the Rhythm. And I was like; there’s something here, it’s a different feeling- this happens when we’re together.” 

From there on Louie Vega only existed in the context of Masters at Work. They would continue remixing pop artists like Debbie Gibson and Marc Anthony, but these remixes would take on a different form, stripping back the originals to their essential parts and reconstructing them in what would become a uniquely Masters at Work sound. Louie and Kenny would “use the B-side of records and put Masters at Work dubs” on the other side which used little more than a hook.  

“Imagine hearing Britney Spears today,” explains Louie searching for the analogy, “and  there’s a dub in there that’s underground. That’s what we were doing. And then everybody wanted a Masters at Work mix.” And everybody is hardly an exaggeration. In the 1000’s of remix credits MAW enjoy, names like Michael Jackson and Diana Ross make regular appearances, and  with names like Bjørk and Ce Ce Pensiton dotted throughout, there was nothing that Louie and Kenny’s midas touch didn’t reach. 

It cemented the Masters at Work sound and also put those records in the hands of an ever changing audience. Coming across a MAW record today in a used shelf, it still elicits a special feeling, like you’re holding something of innate quality and extraordinary power. It’s the result of “working 14 hours a day for ten years,” according to Louie. “That’s why it had such an impact – it was a big body of work and it was consistent.” And there is still more to come from it. Recently Louie and Kenny have been unearthing a treasure trove of forgotten sessions from that time in a new series called MAW Lost Tapes.

“MAW lost tapes are all those old tapes from those ten years,” explains Louie. “We took them out of storage and as we looked through them we found new music we didn’t hear before.” Pieces of records that landed on the “don’t use” piles all those years ago are now being recontextualised in a series that’s 3 releases deep so far and has much more to give. 

It’s just another project in a never-ending stream of projects for Louie Vega. His work ethic is incorrigible and yet when you talk to him there’s effortless ease to the persona, like he’s just stepped off a beach somewhere. Making time for our conversation between a soundcheck and a dinner reservation, while trying to arrange a lost bag from the airline, Louie doesn’t wear even the slightest sign of stress on his entire demeanour. It’s something that he carries with him to the booth as well and its effect is infectious. There’s an enjoyment there that has diminished little and it encapsulates everything, from making records to playing records, and hearing a new sound system for the first time.

It’s hard to let him go, I could ask a million questions. We barely skate over his time during New York clubbing’s heyday, the creation of MAW and what it was like to win a Grammy. He talks in reverent tones about wife Anané’s music, label and their DJ collaboration for The Ritual – “That came by mistake” – and in the laundry list of names he praises, people like Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles make regular appearances. There’s a humility there that seems unusual in the context of his own contributions to this music.

Listening to Louie later that evening in the basement, that affable nature permeates through the music, and its effect on the dance floor is visible. People crowd the booth, and at the end of the night, everybody is eager to get a picture with Louie Vega. He respects every request, a smile never leaving his face, and then he is off to his next appointment. 

Words by Misha Mathys

Get that funk out of the trunk: 20 years of Trunkfunk with DJ Nibc

This article was originally scheduled to appear in 2020, but due to the pandemic and closed borders we had the postpone NIBC’s visit and the related content. With an appearance scheduled for the 16th of May at Loving Tuesdays, it made sense to finally release the article. Although Trunkfunk is now almost 23 the questions remain relevant. 

Between the end of the nineties, and the first few years of our new millenium, when Y2K fears were quelled and Hip Hop’s success finally caught up to the hyperbole their lyrics conveyed, a small independent dance music label with big room aspirations was born in Gothenburg Sweden. 

Gestating within a healthy electronic club music community that went beyond Gothenborg and even Sweden, a label called Trunkfunk came to be as the brainchild of Fredrik Nyberg, better known as DJ Nibc. It was the product of the newfound enthusiasm for electronic music that came in the late nineties, and an environment conducive of experimentation across genres.

The label took shape around a group of live electronic artists spearheaded by Nyberg, and what was initially meant as an simple outlet for the music he and fellow producers were beginning to make, simply blasted out of the gate with a split release by two Swedish powerhouses in the House and Techno scene. Chuck Cogan and Gunnar Underground launched the label with a bang on the collaborative effort “Summer Breeze,” which moved in the same circles of Filter House trends established by the likes of Daft Punk and Armand van Helden at the same time.

It brought immediate attention to the label, and just like that the label went into hiatus…. Oddly it would take another five years for Trunkfunk to return, but as it did, the artists behind the label and specifically DJ Nibc, began to define the label’s sound as something that was built on the DIY foundations of House, Techno and Electro, with a focus on the funkier elements of those genres.

Since Trunkfunk started, a “feature of the label” has been its “three distinct phases” Nyberg tells me over a telephone call from Gothenburg. While Trunkfunk has gone from flirting with commercial success in Sweden to pulling the label and its sound closer to the underground in Berlin (where Nyberg lived for some time), there’s been succinct evolutions through the label’s history. It has, for the most part,  revolved around the artist, DJ, producer and club night promoter at the core of the label, DJ Nibc and as Trunkfunk moves into its 20th year, another new phase for the label is imminent again.  

With a 20th anniversary compilation primed, featuring the likes of Skatebård, Voiski, Art Alfie and many more for the end of 2020, and the Trunkfunk events  going forward after Nyberg has relocated to Gothenburg, the Trunkfunk name will continue to be a dominant presence. With a pre-emptive celebration looming at Jaeger this weekend for label affiliate Vinny Villbass’ Badabing, I phoned up Fredrik Nyberg for a quick trip down memory lane ahead of the event. 

20 years, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Yeah, it’s crazy how time flies, it doesn’t feel like twenty years. 

It feels like only yesterday when I heard your track “Without a Trace,” and that was on the 15 year compilation. 

It feels that between 15 years and now, it’s gone superfast. It feels like that when it started and between 5 and 10 years, that was way longer between those things happening. 

How has it been possible for you to run a label for that long?

I think the main motivation and passion has always been connected between running club nights, DJing and music. Music has been my main thing in life. Looking at the label side of things it’s a bit strange, because I’ve been doing so many different things. The label has been living its own life and it’s almost like a diary of different eras. It’s been a very organic way of running the label. 

So, are you celebrating twenty years of the club night too, or did the label come first and then the club night?

The label came first and ten years ago I started the club night. I had been doing club nights before then as well, but they weren’t called Trunkfunk. Instead of starting another concept I wanted to do everything under one name. So roughly, it’s been ten years for the parties, in Gothenburg and I’ve been doing trunkfunk parties in Berlin and Stökholm too. 

And the club night is an extension of the label, I assume.

Yes, exactly. It’s also been two different storylines. Not everything from the club night has been connected to the label or the other way around. They have lived parallel lives. 

It’s curious, because a couple of weeks after you’re celebrating twenty years, we’ve got Dial celebrating twenty years too and there are a few more labels that also sprang into existence at that time. Was there something conducive of that time that contributed to the insurgence of small independent labels at that time?

I think so. It was an interesting time between 1999 and 2000 when we started. We didn’t have a clue about what we were doing. It was me and two other guys doing live shows. We saved up from doing the live shows into the first record. Everything happened randomly. It was very much a process of learning by doing, and it took almost 5-6 years before we understood all the legal aspects of how everything worked. We were making music, performing and getting some gigs and a following, but we didn’t know anything about the music industry. 

Did the label start off as a vehicle for your own releases?

That was the original idea, but the very first release was from another Swedish artist. We didn’t feel our own tracks were strong enough. Our tracks were more like live performance tracks. That was (some of) the motivation for the label, but it was also about creating this kind of community. 

Was it Sweden or was it largely focussed on Gothenburg?

We were touring, Stockholm and Copenhagen, all around Sweden. About Twenty years ago there were some decent clubs in smaller cities in Sweden to play live.

Tell me about that first release for Gunnar Underground and Chuck Cogan, how did it arrive on the label?

They were two talented producers that had already released on some bigger labels in the UK. We just admired their music and they had so much talent we just wanted to put their music out first. We didn’t have any pr strategy, other than making it available to the world. It was a strange experience, but we were super excited by the release. 

In terms of the sound of the label, was that established with that first record, or did you only have a vague idea of what you wanted the label to sound like eventually?

This was around the trend of the late nineties and that big French, filter house sound. That was our take on that, but also some of it was Chicago influenced or like deep House. We had a lot of tracks, but the thing was after this first release, we didn’t have a plan for the next one, so it took some years before we released the second release on Trunkfunk. In some sense it started  again five years later with the second release. 

After this second release did the focus turn to your own releases?

Actually yes, but also the people I was working with at the beginning of Trunkfunk, they left. It was me and Carl Ryden (together as Tyken) that started again as the Trunkfunk brand and took my earlier ideas, and made new versions. Then it became an outlet for my own music. 

Did a sound start to coalesce more around the label as a result?

Yeah, we worked together closely for a couple of years. 

It seems that the funk aspect to the name plays a prominent role in the music, where what is largely House music, always has that element of funk to it. 

Definitely. I think the original name came from a nineties Hip Hop record, and before there was Trunkfunk records, there was Trunkfunk brothers. Which was me and two other guys, and we kept that kind of funk vibe, but took it into different territories. It’s always been a mixture of that vibe, throughout the journey, but there have been very different styles throughout the years. 

When you are looking for other artists to contribute to the label, what usually draws you to their music?

We try to reach anyone we can get in touch with. We are really open to hearing new and interesting stuff, and it can be anything, from Electro, to Techno to House. The main part of this journey so far is about being on the move to the next thing. We never really stuck with one style. Of course there is always this retro element from when we started in the nineties. 

You’ve been releasing music steadily since that second phase, but was there ever a time, when you were a little dismayed by the music out there?

There’ve been a lot of times when we were not that inspired about what was going on, where there wasn’t anything for us to contribute. Like the minimal tech sound happening about 12 years ago, when I moved to Berlin. We had to find our own place within that sound. 

There was also a period where we thought we’d put out one release a month to see what would happen. Then for me it became about keeping track of a lot of admin stuff, which killed the vibe. I could see the effect of the popularity of the label, so it had both good and bad qualities. 

Did you notice that between Sweden and Berlin, your perception of music changed, and that it might have affected your own music and the label? 

Definitely. When I was living in Sweden I was more influenced by commercial music. When we started in 1999, there were underground Swedish DJs releasing big commercial tracks. We were trying to do the same, and we had a lot of Trunkfunk releases that were being played on BBC1 and national radio. 

That was my purpose when I lived in Sweden, but when I moved to Berlin, and saw how big the underground culture was, and noticed how many places you could play in a more underground way, that affected my purpose with Trunkfunk. In the last 10-12 years it went a lot more underground in terms of sound. 

Do you think it is easier today, in a digital landscape where there is so much space for new music, than before when you had to put out a record to get it into a DJ’s hands?

Yes, in some ways it’s easier now, but in some ways it’s much harder, because you have social media and all these PR responsibilities that go with it and takes some time away from the studio. It’s so saturated today, that good music will get lost in a sea of loads of releases. 

Do you find some joy in doing the promo and PR?

I think I enjoy all the different aspects of music, including the label, Djing and making music. It changed for me around 2 or 3 years ago, when I started a secret new label and alias, because that gave me the freedom to not look back at Trunkfunk, and following the same line that I’ve been drawing in the sand. Then I got some new energy for it, like a blank slate, creating something from scratch and being anonymous about it. I wasn’t being judged from what I did in the past. 

Speaking about the label and the motivation on PR; it’s funny because you can be pretty artistic in new ways now that you couldn’t before. I like to use Varg as an example; he does a really cool social media thing, where he portrays himself like a Hip Hop artist. It reminds me of how Green Velvet was a “punk guy” and had his own take on being an artist and creating a persona. 

You’re still releasing music as NIBC on the label. How has it affected the change in your own music through the years?

At the time of the very first NIBC track (Deliverance), the time I spent working in the studio to finish one track would take about one year. Now I make a lot of music, and I make a lot of rough sketches, which I treat almost like remixes, and that’s the work process for me now, as opposed to when Trunkfunk started. It’s so much easier to work with stuff that you haven’t spent too much time on. 

Going forward with the label into the future, and into the present. What do you have planned for Trunkfunk and how do you see it evolving after this milestone?

It’s going into a different direction. I remember when we turned 10, we were still in that era of doing more commercial stuff. I had just moved to Berlin and it was hard for me to choose where we were going, and the stuff we had already released. The way I solved that situation back then was having a lot of remixes on the label. So I could have a banging Techno remix of a poppy track. That was the intersection of those two eras, while now for me, it’s moving back to where we started with twenty years of experience. With the parties, we’re going to be a bit more selective, because I moved back to Gothenburg and my focus here is not doing a club concept for another ten years, but keeping it rare and more special. 

And you’ll be doing another compilation for this anniversary. 

This anniversary there will be twenty tracks from twenty different artists. They all sound similar, whereas in the past there were a lot of different styles. This twentieth anniversary will have a more unison-sounding release. 

I imagine that your set at Jaeger will gravitate towards that sound. 

Yes, I will play a lot of the tracks from the compilation.

 

Free falling with Steffi

Steffi has been there at every stage of club music. From playing the dark bunkers in her native Netherland to that 5am slot at Berghain where she holds a residency, and then back to some obscure hole-in-the-wall in a  2nd city, Steffi’s range as a DJ extends far beyond the scope of whatever style-du-jour-box people try to place her in. There’s an instinctive quality that tugs at the core of the body and a sensibility that goes way beyond the immediacy of the beat. 

It’s something that extends to her work in the studio too, where she can deliver the enthusiasm of peak time at one end of the spectrum, or delve deep into the inner workings of her machine with scientific-like precision at the other end. At the core of her work is a innate understanding of the legacy of this machine music, hewed to a pristine perfection that has covered a fair few albums and Eps, most of which for Berghain’s Ostgut Ton imprint if not for her own labels, like Klakson, Dolly or the newly established Candy Mountain imprint. 

Candy Mountain marks a new chapter in Steffi’s career, coming at the same time as a permanent move for her and her partner Virginia to Portugal from Berlin and providing a platform for her latest LP and the first album outside of the Ostgut franchise, The Red Hunter. A label, studio, retreat and much more, Candy Mountain sits alongside Klakson and Dolly in Steffi’s extensive scope on club music. As an artist, Red Hunter took Steffi’s sounds on the borders of the dance floor with broken beats, and brooding synthesisers floating through the arrangements. Dedicated to her late mother, the record finds Steffi in a reflective and serene mood, without completely disengaging with the sound of her club sets. 

There’s a lot that’s in flux with the sound of Steffi’s sets at the moment and a lot in congruence with the sound of her Klakson label. Where Dolly took up most of her time during her tenure in Berlin it seems Klakson has focussed Steffi’s attention towards the sounds of Electro, EBM and the dance floor’s outlier genres. It’s taken up a clarion call for these genres and styles with artists like 214, Fastgraph and The Hacker contributing to the label alongside Steffi’s own contributions and her collaborative projects like Negroni Nails. 

Does this mark a new phase for Steffi, and how has her move to Portugal affected her music and her pursuits as a DJ? With these questions and more burning, we sent off an email to Steffi ahead of her appearance at Jaeger tonight. 

Let’s start with Candy Mountain, and your  move to Portugal. It seems like you are establishing an electronic music community down there with studios, a label, a retreat. What is the history behind Candy Mountain and what does it all entail?

We bought a house in Portugal in 2017 to spend our time between Berlin and the Portuguese countryside. In 2020 we wrapped up our lives in Berlin, ended up moving everything to Portugal permanently and we set up Candy Mountain. Candy Mountain is a label, studio space and creative hub. It is an artist-driven platform based here in the countryside of Portugal but operates on a global level. The studio sits in the middle of nature. artists can live and work under the same roof with zero distractions in a tranquil environment. The perfect space to work and also connect with the local scene in Portugal. we both feel that it’s important to give something back to the place we moved to and welcomed us so we hope to do so with this new concept

.I know you and Virginia had already been living between Portugal and Berlin in the past, but what inspired the permanent move?

We wanted to move eventually but covid 2019 came and we were in lock down in our house in Portugal and realized it was not going to be a small one so we decided to pack up Berlin as traveling up and down became impossible.

And from what I understand, it’s a little outside Lisbon, and somewhat remote. Why there?

Nature!

I know this might be a bit of an abstract thing, but do you think it’s had an effect on your music and anything in terms of DJing since the move?

It had a massive effect on my mindset in the positive sense. It’s much easier to unwind here than in a city and I am focussed on different things here. 

So far Candy Mountain is an exclusive vehicle for Steffi, but I assume that will change as the results of these musical residencies come to fruition. What’s going to be the first release from a guest artist and what’s going to be the process for selecting music for this label in particular; does it have to come out of that studio specifically?

CaMo002 will be a 12 inch by Tracing Xircles with an amazing D-Bridge remix! Nothing needs to come out of the studio in the end but it’s there if people want to come over and use it for a possible release. Locals or artists abroad. It’s all about options and making things happen in the end. The idea is all about collaborations with people we appreciate in our inner circle and opening the door to the scene here in Portugal.

Tell me a bit about the studio, because your Berlin studio was well documented in the past. Has it basically been transplanted from Berlin to Portugal and what if any fundamental changes have affected your workflow?

It’s basically a mirror from what I had as a set up in Berlin merged with Virginia’s studio. The workflow is pretty similar actually. On top of that, we have a great outdoor space for small parties and get-togethers and the ground floor is a super cosy studio apartment to stay in with a dj set up.

I am aware of the thematic concept behind Red Hunter in terms of a record dedicated to your mother, but was there a specific musical concept or goal behind it?

I have been writing this album over the last 3/4 years and the foundation of these songs were done in so many different settings and places rather than writing it in one go what I normally would do. Looking at it from a more conceptual aspect I really wanted to dive deeper into my rhythm sections and take that to a next level. More definition and detail was my main goal. Small melodies on top of complex and heavy beats. Rhythm becoming an melodic element. The red hunter, it’s the first track I have written in this particular vain/mood and also defines the sound of the whole album perfectly for me. When I finished this track I knew I wanted to write a whole album in around this song and it was clear where the sound needed to go. It gave me the kickstart of the whole creative process for this album basically.

Candy Mountain finds itself in what is already a busy label franchise from you, alongside Klakson and the Dolly suite of labels. Where does Candy Mountain fit into that spectrum in terms of sound and concept?

It has no stylistic boundaries so we can just jump and take a free fall :-)

How do you decide what gets the attention and what goes where, especially in terms of our own music?

Well klakson and dolly have shaped themselves up quite well during the last 20 plus years. Dolly is more house and techno related and klakson has always had a focus on electro so that line is quite clear. I don’t feature myself too much on those labels because I always wanted to release other people’s music and build up artists for those platforms. I have worked with ostgut ton for my solo stuff mostly and when it was time to spread my wings it was the perfect time to found a new imprint for my album with Candy Mountain.

It seems in recent years Klakson has also taken over a bit from Dolly in terms of your focus. I know you’ve said in the past Klakson is a label you’ll pick up when the time and the music is right for it. What is it about this period and the music you’re bringing out on the label that has encouraged this flurry of activity recently?

The beauty is that I can play around so much and one does not exclude the other. Important for me is though when there is nothing to tell on one label, it just takes a pause so it never loses quality but just takes a nap. klakson woke up because the time was right and had a lot to tell. It’s a great dynamic to juggle between brother and sister. Stay tuned because there will be some interesting new stuff coming on Dolly. She has new stories to tell. 

Photo by Stephan Redel

Personally, I feel that it is the perfect time for a label like Klakson to exist, with something a little more cognitive for the dance floor. And I feel from listening to your last LP and some of your recent mixes online, that you might feel the same. Where do your musical allegiances lie at the moment when it comes to what you’re listening to, playing and making?

My pallet is so wide when it comes to playing and making music. I find it very unattractive to focus on just one thing as my taste is simply too diverse. I am a music freak and I buy whatever I like to hear and play whatever I feel like. I love being able to have a side of me that produces and plays abstract electro, IDM and broken stuff and the other side that loves dance floor stuff like house and techno. It’s always been like this. It resonates on my labels, dj sets and through my productions and remixes. 

If we listen to an early track like Yours, and then most of Red Hunter there’s a clear distinction there, but then if you throw in a track like All living things from 2017 there’s an evolution too. As an artist how do you reflect on these different periods in relationship to where you are now musically?

Evolution. For me it’s a journey and I have dreams and goals and ideas on the horizon I wanna reach. All of what I have done so far are logical steps in my creative development. Like I said I love being able to go abstract and push the boundaries there but I also love to write straight up dance floor stuff. Over the years as a producer I became more and more skilled to be able to do that and this is amazing for my creative expression.

Is there any relationship to the music you’re making today compared to what you were listening to and playing back when you started in the Netherlands as a DJ and promoter?

Yes, I knew all along that one day I wanted to make an album like the red hunter one day and of course the musical influences shape you as a producer big time.

What was your focus back then in terms of music and how did it inform what would become a  career? 

The passion of music has been the main drive. Always. I never had any plans to be making money from dj-ing or producing music. This all went gradually to be honest. I do have to say when I moved to Berlin in 2007 I was aware that this could be a possibility for me to drop my work as a free-lance graphic designer and live off of my dj gigs but even then I wasn’t focussed on dj-ing being a career. Is it a career or am I just doing what I love most, making music, throwing parties, dj-ing and releasing other people’s music? When it all gets serious, yes it becomes a business but the main focus is and will always be music, music and music. 

Going from somewhere like the south of the Netherlands to Berlin and then to somewhere remote like Candy Mountain, is there a sense of coming full circle for you and what’s the biggest fundamental change for you as an artist and DJ between those early days and now?

I am from a small town in the south of Holland and I could not wait to move to the city when I was 19 because it was suffocating me big time. I lived in Australia in 1996-1997, then Amsterdam for 10 years and then Berlin for 13 years and at some point I closed a certain city life chapter for me and really wanted to be in nature and moved to a village with 200 people. How ironic hahahahah!. That’s quite the full circle journey I’d say. like technology, the biggest game changer in the scene. For example virtual reality and the global impact it has. Quantity over quality, visibility over anonymity, virtual reality over living in the moment. So on so on so on ;-)

Ok Steffi, that’s all the questions I have. Thank you for indulging me and I only have one more request. Can you play us out with a song?

Last Days Of Innocence by Driven By Attraction

I can’t pick just one song, because I love the whole EP!! :

17th of May – Full-lineup released

With a whole host of guests, including an international visit, this year’s 17th of May promises to be like no other.

Away from the honking brass of marching bands, tucked in an alley just beyond the slow moving procession of Norwegian banners, Jaeger offers a brief dalliance with a dance floor. A dance floor filled with everything from Brunader to sneakers, in a sunny courtyard in May, with soundsystem contirubuting to the festive noise that swathes the city for Norway’s National day.

This year is a little different… with a national holiday the next day, allowing us to extend the annual DJ marathon a little longe into the night with more DJs than ever, including a visit from Skatebård and DJ Boring on the same day. We kick off from 12:00 in the courtyard and pace ourselves throughout with some of our closest friends joining our residents across the two floors.

You can see the full lineup below as well as on the official event.  We’re doing limited guestlist spots for those that want to secure entry early, so please contact us at info@jaegeroslo.no for more information.

Gården

12:00 Kash & MC Kaman
15:00 Anders Hajem, Henrik Villard, Perkules (Boring Club Records)
17:00 Olle Abstract
18:00 Guy, Fritz, Nordiks (Futoria, French Voyage)
21:00 Skatebård
23:00 Dara
00:00 g-HA & Olanskii

Diskon
21:00 Mapusa
22:00 Synne
23:00 Ole HK & Normann
01:00 DJ Boring

In the booth with Chaos in the CBD

It’s fair to say Chaos in the CBD lived up to their name when they arrived in Oslo on the 10th of May 2022. By the time the brothers Helliker-Hales landed in the booth at Jaeger, a ceiling had caved in on another dance floor down the road and when they reached the middle of their set, there was a sense of reckless abandon on Jaeger’s dance floor. Images from the night show an audience reciprocating en masse for a night that is eared into our collective memory and brings back all kinds of feelings as we get chance to share a portion of the mix with you today.

Chaos in the CBD have become a touchstone for a new generation of fans and old heads alike. Their music and label, “In dust we trust” continues to honour the origins of House music with an affinity for the deeper end of the spectrum on the vinyl format while as DJs their enthusiasm for the energy and dynamic range of the dance floor is unparalleled. Their social media accounts, interviews and Boiler Room sets show a pair of DJs that get as much a thrill out of playing as their audience gets from dancing to it, with a pretext on the hedonistic value of this music. 

“We want to play the stuff we want to hear in a club,” says Ben Helliker-Hales, who introduces himself as Beans when we meet in Jaeger’s courtyard. ”We are very considerate of what we feel the crowd wants to hear as well,” chimes Louis as if taking a subliminal cue from the younger brother. The New Zealand brothers have been playing music together in one form or another since their teens and share what Beans refers to as a “telepathic” connection through music today. They’ve developed that instinct into a production force, a label and as one of the most exciting DJ duos around at the moment.

They have a sincere “passion for the stuff” as Beans tells it, going “deep into the sub-genres” where they draw from a diverse range of tastes and styles. “And keep the energy right,” interrupts Louis. Their set from Jaeger delves deep into an array of sounds, largely anchored to the roots of House music, casting a sprawling net from the deeper ends of the genre to the upper reaches of the dance floor, all for the sake of facilitating the dance. They would rather “play what we want to hear in the club at the point of time” according to Beans than try to force their own songs on a club full of eager punters. 

“If we played the music we produced… and the circumstances aren’t right, then it’s a bit boring,” Louis agrees. “At three in the morning we want high-energy, we don’t want Deep House,” insists Beans. It’s around that time when they kick into a stripped-down, functional House tool that’s little more than a drum machine and a vocal, giving no quarter to the dance floor even as their set winds down. 

We are figuratively and literally world away from where Chaos in the CBD started out when we sit down for our interview. It’s a fact that New Zealand is probably the closest landmass you’ll reach if you were to dig straight down from Norway and yet oddly the two countries share similarities in both landscape and music scene. Like Norway, “the scene was always very small in New Zealand” according to Beans and they had very little access to it growing up.

They “started getting into it, in 2006,” says Louis who instigated Beans to do the same. “We were in a band together and I went to Australia and heard a couple of records. It was around the time of Boys Noize records and The Klaxons were about to take off – I guess there was a lot of crossover appeal for bands.” “It was still ingrained in band culture, but with an electronic aspect,” relays Beans who shortly followed in his older brother’s footsteps: “We saw the Carl Cox and took ecstasy for the first time… and I was like fuck-it, I like dance music!” 

In what was to become a common theme for the time the band got rid of their instruments and picked up computers. Beans, who had been the drummer in the band, was bringing his “whole PC down to band practice and triggering samples on fruity loops and it came to a point where I realised, I don’t need to be in a band.” 

As Louis “was discovering new stuff” during a period of exploration, Beans “dropped out of high school and studied audio engineering.” They made a formidable duo through Louis’ guidance and Beans’ skills. They found a small but dedicated scene in Auckland, developing their skills as DJs while getting to grips with the production aspects of this music. “Back then you had to go and find it,” says Louis of his native scene. The “first couple of years we were the most excited ones, playing these tracks that no-one else knew.” They played mainly “bass” music according to Beans, informed by a sound of London at that time and associated with artists like Ramadanman and Peverelist. “A lot of people that ran Serrato (a NZ based company), they were into that kind of stuff and we would play parties with them” forming “a little community for it.” 

While Chaos in the CBD were cutting their teeth as DJs and producers in Auckland, the advancement of social media and the Internet started connecting them to an international scene including the record label that would facilitate their first release, Young Guns. “We met on Myspace.” recalls Beans “We used to speak to them over AIM and Skype and we became… almost like pen pals.” The French label which shared much of the roster to ClekClekBoom label, brought out “Never Ending” from Chaos in the CBD back in 2012. 

It’s no surprise that the record and its follow up on ClekClekBoom bears similarities to that UK bass sound from the time, but as you get into their third record, “816 to Nunhead” there is a distinct shift in their music. The cold ratcheting rhythms and stark metallic percussion liquifies into soulful melodies and syncopated rhythms as it submerges into the deep. The record coincides with a move to London around the same time for the brothers, but it was “never a conscious decision of what to make,” affirms Beans about the direction their music took. “At that time it was all about the trend,” according to Louis and they were still “trying to find our place” within it all. It was only natural for them to turn to the “deeper kind of stuff” as “that was the music that we liked,” declares Beans. Acts like St. Germain and a mix CD of Deep House that they inherited from a friend’s mum, were staples in their playlist since the start.

“I think” ponders Louis, “by 2015 when we did the Midnight in Peckham record, that came really naturally.” That record, facilitated by a chance encounter on a train with Rhythm Section boss Bradley Zero, helped cement Chaos in the CBD’s sound as artists. “People reacted really well to it,” remembers Louis “which just encouraged us to do more of the same.”

That sound also infiltrated their label when they eventually established it in 2017 with Jon Sable. The vinyl focussed label remains an exclusive vehicle for the founders’ output including Chaos in the CBD, with Beans taking immense satisfaction in the tactile form of their music. “We would always want the music we make to have a physical copy, it gets lost otherwise,” he explains. “It’s history, a timestamp. There’s a physical interaction with it, and it evokes a memory of where you bought it, who you were with; That’s important to us.” The colour coded records take pride in place in his collection, even if he rarely brings them out. 

While the music of the label doesn’t always resonate with what they play in their sets, that spirit does. “A lot of the music we buy now is older stuff,” says Beans and whether it’s a digital file or a record it retains a fervent connection to the past, especially in the booth. They continue to relate more to the past with Beans proclaiming that their sets are all rooted in “early House music” a form of music that “has never gotten better.”

And even with Louis’ “love” for the “convenience” and immediacy of the “digital side of things,” he can’t help but echo that sentiment. “It’s a preference thing,” he explains. “Especially since the pandemic, I’ve gone even deeper into the nineties.” It’s reached a point where he hardly considers new music or records for his sets. “I found that if I went back and found a label or an artist that I like, I just found hit after hit. There’s so much that I haven’t heard.” Djing to a younger generation, who will most likely share those experiences, he can relay music that sets him apart with a sound that is unique in a modern landscape.

It’s “the production quality, the swing, the rawness,” suggests Beans of its appeal. “If it still resonates with you now, it must mean it’s fucking amazing. It’s timeless music!”  

While their own records continue to bring new fans to their work as artists, as DJs they connect a modern dance floor with the roots of this music. They’ve re-affirmed the classics in the contemporary club setting while developing a unique voice. “As DJs, it’s our duty to showcase that music from the past for people that might not have heard it in that context… or at all,” interprets Louis. “If it excites us, you will be able to see it when we perform.” And that’s exactly what they did when Chaos in the CBD landed at Jaeger for a Frædag in May, 2022. 

Share your soul with Chez Damier

Chez Damier’s legacy is dotted through the history of club music. From its early days in Chicago to its heyday in Detroit and its satellite adventures in New York, Chez Damier was there. What started on the dance floor went on to the booth and beyond as he became an uncompromising epitome in the nascent sound of House music with tendrils of influence that extended towards styles like proto-Techno and to new regions like Paris. 

He played pivotal roles in the creation of  KMS (Kenny Saunders’ label), the legendary Music Institute in Detroit and the Belleville Three (Techno’s original figureheads) before going on to establish his own path with Ron Trent in the creation of the now legendary Prescription and Balance Records. Besides contributing to some of the label’s biggest releases like Foot Therapy and Morning Factory, the labels also offered a platform for the likes of Romanthony and Stacey Pullen, from which they went on to achieve greatness.

Chez Damier’s contributions to dance music in its earliest forms were fundamental to the development of the scene and its eventual popularity. By the late nineties he and Ron Trent had been installed in the annals of House music as legends, but such was Chez Damier’s integrity and dedication to the music that when he could have easily cashed in on his popularity he instead took an hiatus. When Ibiza and festival stages came calling, it was so far removed from those humble beginnings, that he took some time off and waited out the storm.

After what would become a lengthy absence, he came back even more determined and more enthusiastic. He took up Balance records where he left off, established House of Chez alongside, and immersed himself back in the scene as a DJ and an artist. As a producer that always sought that collaborative artistic process he has engaged with many new and exciting producers, establishing projects like Heart 2 Heart, and channelling that impetuous spirit of House music’s origins into the present for the next generation.

He is, needless to say, an accomplished and seasoned DJ with the accolades of a veteran in his field and yet he is still buoyed by that enthusiasm of his 15 year-old self, discovering House music for the first time. His sets are undeniably unique in today’s landscape and as he prepares another for Jaeger we caught with the DJ, producer and label owner to find out more. He talks about those early days; his hand in coining the term Techno; new beginnings; and having that last dance with Frankie Knuckles.

*Chez Damier plays ByPåskefestivalen this Wednesday

Hello Chez. It’s truly an honour to be speaking to you. I believe we’re catching you at an interesting period with the new label House of Chez and a lot of new music coming from you. Is there something particular about this time and place that‘s inspiring these new projects?

Yes, it’s a new generation. With a new generation there’s always new inspiration. So, new inspiration and being able to continue to sow back into the community or the culture that we’ve worked so hard to keep going.

House of Chez alludes to your interest in fashion. I’m reminded of something that Sadar Bahar told me; that House music was a lifestyle more than a genre of music back at its beginnings. Is this you bringing these two worlds together again and where is crossover for you in these two creative outlets?

Yes, since I started out, I’ve been inspired by the fashion aspect, so now I’m going to incorporate that in probably doing some merchandising, some shirts and t-shirts. I think it’s a full circle for me in particular, more than anyone else.

I believe there’s a Heart 2 Heart album on the way too. What can you tell us about it and what does it represent in terms of where you are at the moment in terms of the music that inspires you?

That’s like my baby now. That’s the first album project that I’ve ever worked on. It’s just special all the way around. I can’t tell you if there is anything particularly special, but the sessions were amazing. It was all written and recorded in Paris over a four and a half year period; going to Paris four and five times a year, for about a week at a time. So, it was a long process because of the distance. We never once brought the project into our own world, only when we came together. H2H is a super special project for me. 

This new project is you working with another artist again. You’ve worked with so many people in the past, and some legendary figures to boot. How is H2H different, and how is it the same as the other collaborations?

Actually to be honest with you, the only thing that changes when working on this project or collaborating with other people, is that you grow. So you learn how to put the egos down, you learn how to put the muscle flexing down, you learn how to cohesively understand people’s energy, and that’s something only time could have taught me. Especially someone who has as much energy as you, so this makes it more special than all the other ones. 

Funny enough, I was talking to MK about doing a mix on this project, because he was the first person I was a student of and it was kind of funny talking to him about my first new album project versus the very first time we worked together. What makes it special this time around, is maturing. 

In H2H’s case your partner is somebody with strong Techno associations. Back in the day there was a lot more of a fluid approach between dance floor genres, and over the years it’s gotten more reductive. As somebody with a foothold in both the origins of House and Techno, how do you get around those strict parameters, especially today?

Actually technically, I’m probably the first in the electronic business to combine House and Techno. Because my roots were in Chicago, dance culture was also in New York, but my experience of music was in Detroit. So, Detroit is where I learnt my sound, and its combination (of all that). I don’t get around it actually, I just look at it as energy. Here’s what I want to do, I want to share my soul. I know it could be easy to follow the trends and do the 3 seconds hands up in the air. I just refuse to do it. If I have to do it, I quit. Don’t get me wrong, the person who has energy has energy from the start. I like it all, and I’m always going to incorporate it in my music and my sets. 

You’ve not only been a part of a scene, but actually helped establish it. What keeps you motivated and drives the momentum in your creativity and work these days?

It’s always knowing that you don’t know. It’s always having the wish that you want to try something you haven’t tried before. It’s also learning more about your energy and how to work with other people’s energy. So, to me that’s the inspiration. I’m not an on-demand artist, I’m not a machine. So when God gives me the inspiration to do something, I’m just doing it. I’m just being a vessel at this point. 

I know you took a little break from it all back in the early 2000’s and I admire your resolve at that time in not going down the hyper-commercial rabbit hole. Ultimately it was the right decision, but what brought you back into the fray? 

What brought me back is this young artist out of Paris named Brawther. He brought me back, because he made me realize the initial mission was never completed. When me and Ron started Prescription records, it was the intention to find like-minded artists like us, we created Balance to be that extended service of artists that also were motivated and inspired by different sounds. When we divided, I shut the whole thing down. So it was always like cutting something off and never seeing the continuation of it. Years later, Brawther gave me the inspiration to realize it wasn’t over. 

What was the hardest part of coming back into it?

There was no hard part at all. It was very welcoming, thanks to Red Bull, thanks to Cyber distribution in Paris, thanks to my publisher in Paris. All of these people were very supportive, encouraging me to either reissue things or come back into the game. These people made it possible for me to do it without being stressful. I have Secret Sundaze to thank, because Secret Sundaze were also responsible for letting me be the first one to sign to their agency. That was really inspiring to work with them. 

I heard it mentioned that you actually coined the original and first Virgin “Techno” compilation record, which went on to label that whole sound as Techno. Do you remember the circumstances around that and your involvement with that legacy?

Yes, I was the one that suggested it to be called Techno. I was just joining KMS at the time, and Derrick (May) was one of my DJs and the music institute. It was just like being ahead of my time, understanding what Juan Atkins was doing and trying to create something that I thought would collectively speak for what was happening at the time. Yes, along with Neil Rushton, I was the one that made the suggestion that we call it the Techno album. Many people don’t know that.

Do you have any regrets today in how Techno has been adopted as this kind of catch-all term that has somewhat gentrified the esoteric origins of that original Detroit sound?

I don’t really like what’s happened in Detroit today, to be quite honest with you. Because Detroit has narrowed the focus to Techno when it was a music capital since the beginning of time. I just don’t like where it’s going, I don’t like the whole kind of ”this is our situation,” when it took many people. It’s like; if you don’t understand the history, you don’t understand the future.

You were there for those seminal moments of House music’s creation from Chicago to New York. What were some of the key experiences for you personally during that time?

Actually it wasn’t even about personal experiences. It was about the newness. We were all fascinated by the fact that there were music bars and conferences that were built around this new music that we were being a part of. It was really inspiring to be face to face with other artists that were behind it. We didn’t have press at that time to show who these artists were. So when we were going to Chicago or New York it was always amazing to finally meet, greet or see these other artists. It was a very inspiring time, at least for me. 

As somebody with this incredible legacy that you have, and the experiences you have from the booth, what were the most fundamental changes you’ve experienced in the scene over the years and what are some of your thoughts on where we are today compared to when you started?

One of the things that I would love to see more of when I have the pleasure to play, is people engaging and enacting with each other more, being inspired by one another. This will always be amazing to me. The things I don’t particularly care about, is what I see at a festival level. This quick sensation that people are getting for this peak moment, is complete suicide, if you ask me. To me, at the end of the day I don’t find it edifying. At the time, I think it’s going to cause some future problems. 

Listening to a Chez Damier set today, Is there an element of something that people would find instantly familiar as Chez Damier, even as you play music from others?

Yeah, I mostly play music from others, and I’m still playing demos from myself, so people don’t know it’s me until they ask me. For me it’s more or less the same. In the beginning, I played more classics, because it was something that I had to prove my roots. This time I actually have the freedom. Before I was coming in with all my guns, but now I get the chance to tell a story. I think over time, people will be able to recognize me by the energy I bring and not necessarily about what they see.

Communicating with an audience is essential to the DJing experience and for that there’s usually a common ground between them and you. How do you maintain that connection with audiences that keep getting younger and younger and what other factors do you feel you are constantly having to adapt to as a DJ today?

I always put myself in their position. I was fifteen years old when I first got mesmerized by House music, and I was sixteen years old when I had my first Frankie Knuckles experience. So for me, I’m just giving back what I was given. It’s easier to relate to a younger audience when you can remember when you were young. 

And besides that… what are you packing these days in terms of music and are there any records you’re particularly eager to bring to Oslo and Jaeger in a couple of weeks time?

Apart from a couple of cuts from the new album, just my presence, I’m eager to bring. And hopefully the spirit of Frankie Knuckles, because the last dance with Frankie k was in Oslo 9 years ago , which is also the anniversary of his passing. So for me, it’s an emotional moment, this year in particular. So it should be exciting. 



Bypåskefestivalen 2023

The full lineup for Bypåskefestivalen 2023 at Jaeger will include Chez Damier, Dan Shake, Traumer and Funky Loffe

Apres ski in the city with a whole load of bass. We descend from the mountain slopes to the heart of the city, where a wall of sound awaits. Insulated in the warmth of our funktion one system our basement cabin offers a refuge in sound for the city dwellers and nocturnal pariahs. We host a weekend of uncompromising talents for our annual Bypåskefestivalen again at Jaeger. Featuring guest appearances by Dan Shake, Funky Loffe, Traumer and House legend Chez Damier,  alongside our residents and their local guests. See the full lineup below and head over to facebook for more event info

05.04 Bypåskefestivalen:
Chez Damier
Prins Thomas (6h set)
O. Blom

06.04 Helt Texas!:
Traumer
Normann + Ole HK
Capodanna + Ida B + Sondre

07.04 Skranglepåske x Frædag:
Dan Shake
Oskar Pask + Petter Celius + Umulius
g-HA & Olanskii

08.04 LYD:
Funky Loffe + Olle Abstract
MC Kaman + Kash

09.04 Foot Food x BCR:
g-HA & Olanskii + Vinny Villbass + diskJokke
Anders Hajem + Henrik Villard + Perkules

10.04 Mandagsklubben:
André Bravo + Thomas Sol + Jennifer Bravo

 

Slindre’s heart beats for House – in conversation with DELLA

Hi all, DELLA here. This week I took the opportunity to chat with, Slindre (formally Snurrebass), an up and coming House DJ and founder of Norway’s fiercest queer club night <LOKOMOTIV>. This Saturday, he will be joining me in the basement for Della’s Drivhus and together we are going to set the club on FIRE. Are you ready to get your groove on? I am!

Slindre, thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Let’s get down to business. 

I am so excited for Saturday! Can’t actually believe that I’m going to play at Æ with you!! A friend of a friend attended your event in Gøteborg a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I’ve never played B2B with anyone before, but hey, it’s gonna be fun to do it for the first time with you. 

You and I just recently met and our love of House music made us instant friends. Please, can you tell us more about who Slindre is? 

Slindre’s heart beats for House music and melodic techno. I love a groovy bassline, cheeky lyrics and soulful vocals. And I live for sweaty dance floors. 

How long have you been DJing?

I ordered my first DJ gear in January 2022, so that makes it one year and three months to be exact. 

What made you want to begin DJing?

I’ve been listening to House, disco and techno for as long as I can remember. Music has always been a source of happiness and a sense of freedom for me. I’m always searching for new music. I love the feeling when I discover music that makes my jaw drop and gives me chills from head to toe. The last couple of years I started to get more and more fascinated with how DJs managed to build up sets like stories, with a narrative and exciting twists and turns. I wanted to start DJing quite some time before I actually did, I guess it was something as boring as janteloven that held me back. But, luckily that wasn’t enough to stop me from going for it. I was immediately hooked. 

You formally went by DJ alias Snurrebass, why did you decide to change your artist name to Slindre?

Hehe, well. When I got my first gigs last spring, I couldn’t completely own that I was a DJ, and Snurrebass had a kind of an ironic twist to it. Now I don’t feel the need to distance myself from being a DJ anymore, so Slindre just feels more right. 

Who are the producers & DJs that inspire you most?

I keep finding new inspiration almost daily. There is almost too much good music out there! But, I definitely draw inspiration from Honey Dijon, Todd Terry, Dennis Quin, Green Velvet, Mr. G, Superlover and Saison. Lately, I’ve also been listening to Roy Rosenfeld quite a bit. He produces really smooth and beautiful downtempo tracks that move me emotionally.

Do you produce music?

Not yet! But I am definitely planning to. 

You are the founder of the new HOT queer concept LOKOMOTIV. Can you tell our readers more about your club night? 

LOKOMOTIV is a passion project created by me and my husband for lovers of electronic music and dancing. Everyone is welcome at LOKOMOTIV, but our target audience is gay guys. So far, it’s been a massive success with a packed dance floor on all four events. It’s been a blast! We even took the event to Stavanger in March. Check us out on Instagram @lokomotivclub

What inspired you to start Lokomotiv? 

Well, there were two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to create a club concept we ourselves felt was missing in Oslo. Secondly, in the beginning it wasn’t easy getting gigs at my favorite clubs. LOKOMOTIV became an opportunity for me to share my passion for music with a big crowd.  

Do you feel there is a lack of queer club nights in Norway?

Yes! That’s why we started LOKOMOTIV. We’ve been saying for years that there aren’t enough queer club nights, so instead of sitting at home complaining, we decided to do something about it. 

Why do you feel it is important to showcase queer artists in music? 

Representation is important everywhere. But when it comes to House music, club culture and queer history, they share an important bond. The underground clubs were a place for queer people to get together, party and be themselves long before we could do so openly. I play music with a lot of gay references in different ways, mostly because it’s really good music, but also as a nod to gay and queer history.  

What are your thoughts on current social issues such as USA wanting to restrict drag?

It makes me sad. 

Have you personally experienced any obstacles being gay and being an artist?

No, not at all! And I don’t expect that to happen either. 

Do you work full-time as a DJ? What is your day job?

I’m a psychologist, specializing in family and couples therapy. So that’s really a contrast to grooving it out in the DJ booth. 

Do you intertwine the two into your music? 

Haha, well. I can’t say that I do. Not directly, anyway. The common factor is that I have a passion for both. And that both therapy and DJing a set is a process, which hopefully leave you feeling better with yourself and the people around you at the end of it. 

Other than the obvious (LOKOMOTIV), what is a favourite club / club concept you’ve experienced?

Oh, tough question. Some of my best nights out have been in NYC. I think I’m gonna say Battle Hymn, by Ladyfag. Elli Escobar is a resident and he is someone I hope to book for LOKOMOTIV one day.

Tell us what we can expect this Saturday in your set at Della’s Drivhus.

You can expect one very excited DJ who’s going to play the House music you didn’t know you needed. It’s going to be impossible for you to stand still.

Any upcoming gigs or events you would like to inform our readers about? 

We have many exciting plans for LOKOMOTIV in 2023. The next event will be in May and is going to be something special. I’m also looking forward to Pride at the end of June. I can’t disclose specifics just yet, but let’s just say that it’s going to be a good week for those of us who enjoy House music.  

 

I look forward to sharing the booth together at Della’s Drivhus! Together we are definitely going to create nothing but pure, rainbow vibes. It is going to be good fun, especially our B2B set. ❤️

 

Check out more of Slindre’s music here:

Have a listen to my opening set for my former guest, Mood II Swing. What a night! 

See you all on the dancefloor this Saturday. 

Follow me on my socials to stay updated! 

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/djdella_official/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/djdella

Kisses, 

DELLA

Intergalactic sounds with Alienata

Alienata occupies a unique space in the world of Techno with an all-encompassing approach that encapsulates everything from IDM to Electro. She’s thrived in the culture’s underground corners since taking to the decks in 2004, where she’s carved out a sound in sets that span “obscure electro, ACID, dub, IDM, dark disco, jakbeat, hypnotic techno, industrial atmospheres, break beats, cosmic jazz , UK electro, Detroit and Chicago” influences.  Traversing the outer regions of club music, Alienata truly channels an inter-galactic language through her musical tastes.

Originally from Spain, Alienata has been residing in Berlin since 2011 where she joined the Killekill (Krake festival) family on her journey to become one of the city’s most dedicated figures. Admired for her approach to club music, her sets pulsate with the energy of the dance floor as she pushes the dynamics across the whole spectrum of club music.  From the furthest recesses of Techno’s reach where artists like Aphex Twin reside to the functional club constructs that motivates movement, Alienata has a very unique approach to her selections. 

It’s not often that Biosphere and Neil Landstrumm are mentioned in the same breath, but like her sets, Alienata is both, not obvious, and distinct in her musical designs. It trickles down from her sets, to her production and her label, Discos Atónicos, where she has channelled her musical tastes into an equally determined platform over the last 5 years. Although versatile, she maintains a unique sound which is hard to pin down to one specific element and it’s through this that she stands out in the larger Techno landscape. 

Ahead of her appearance at Jaeger tomorrow night, we caught up with the DJ, producer and label honcho for further insight into her musical tastes and her approach to DJing and music. 

Hey Alienata. Where are you at this moment and what are you listening to right now?

Hello : )

At this moment I’m enjoying touring a lot! I’m having great experiences & connections in all the places I visit. In terms of listening 

I’ve read somewhere that you’re a fan of Biosphere. That obviously resonates with us here in Norway. To me, a record like Patashnik is one of those perfect records to play after a night out. Do you have a record like that; something you like to put on after a particularly good night?

Yeah, I deeply love Biosphere!

And regarding your question I think Substrata is that record I always found perfect to listen to after a good gig (or even after a bad gig! haha) Another one: Selected Ambient Works by Aphex Twin. 

I often hear Aphex in your sets too. Where is the crossover between the music you listen to at home and the music you play out?

Well, when I’m at home I tend to listen to slow beats, downtempo, I love that flow so much. Obviously “that flow” influences me when I make my musical selections. 

Versatile would be an understatement when considering your music and DJing and yet there’s something there that ties it all together. What is that fundamental element in your musical tastes in terms of making and playing music?

I think that fundamental element is a mix of galactic sounds, a sense of funk & groove & and a touch of psychedelia.

What first planted the seed for these musical tastes to develop and when was that? 

I used to help a friend who distributed records to most of the DJs in my city. First in a record store and then he would do it from home and I would give him a hand. I spent all my time listening to all kinds of music. I didn’t care about the genres or styles. were being trained without my realising it.

Has it always been about electronic music or was there a point or event that initially brought you to the sounds of synthesisers and drum machines?

Let’s just say that I have always loved rhythm and atmospheres, since I was a child. I used to listen to classical & psychedelic music all the time when I was about 12/13 years old. It was a kind of therapy for me. Through sound I was inspired to write and build parallel worlds where I could escape from reality. There were a lot of problems at home and I needed to transcend them in some way. Music has always had that “magic” component in my life.

Was there a big community of kindred spirits in Valencia when you were discovering this music and how did it influence your own evolution from fan to DJ? 

Totally! Actually I am originally from Murcia (not Valencia!) and yes, I have always had the good fortune to surround myself with spirits who were quite advanced in every sense of the word. Not only in electronic music, but also in krautrock, post punk or wave. Let’s say that when I discovered the language of music I did it almost in a shamanic way. 

How did you get into DJing and what do you remember of those initial experiences behind a set of decks?

It all happened when I was living with my friend who I was helping distribute records (I mentioned before) He had a brutal collection of vinyl, all kinds of stuff. We were all the time listening to music. And my curiosity grew and grew, so when I was alone at home, I used to sneak into “the magic room”, pick up records randomly (because I knew I was always going to discover something interesting) and start playing. And I would practise for myself, without anyone knowing it. It was almost a ritual for me. 

Were you exploring those bridges between IDM, Electro, Techno and EBM right from the start and what did you establish in your approach to DJing even back then?

I never had any barriers when I started to play music. Everything that fit or caught the attention of my ears had a place in my initial sessions. I didn’t care about styles. I could fit in the same session some Neil Landstrumm with Miles Davis’ Doo Boop and many other things in between. The music, beyond the styles, had a strength, a way of telling stories that in my way of understanding the sound at that time fit in. A bit mystical I would say.

Has it evolved in any significant way since then?

Of course, it has evolved in terms of knowledge. But the spirit is the same. 

I assume Djing remains your first love.

I deeply love to play music, from the deepest part of my heart. It’s the language with which I have learned to communicate with the world. Sometimes complicated to explain in words!

…and Discos Atónicos a close second?

Discos Atónicos is my baby.

I was previously involved in other record labels with my other collectives but in the end I was always left with the feeling that I couldn’t do 100 percent of what I wanted to do.

So after years and when I felt the time was right, I started with Discos Atónicos, Being my own boss and having all the freedom to edit whatever I wanted to edit. 

When you do make a track or remix something, is there an instinct to try and express a similar sound or mood in these pieces and how would you describe that mood or sound?

If I’m honest I don’t usually have a certain mood in my head when I make music but it’s true that there are certain patterns that I repeat: the broken rhythms, the atmospheres a bit dramatic, the bleeps and… I love pads! I need depth in some way. 

In an interview from 2019 you said you were in the process of re-inventing yourself. What was the reason behind this re-invention and what did it entail or lead to?

I believe that in the end, life is a process of reinventing oneself all the time. I have a terrible fear of boredom! I could say now, in 2023, that I am still in the process of reinvention and I hope it never ends! I say this with all the positivity in the world. 

When I think of Techno (and maybe this is just a generational thing) I tend to think of the kind of music people like you play. But Techno’s popularity has brought new, not always positive connotations to the genre. What are your personal experiences in the scene regarding Techno’s popularity today?

It is a bit confusing at times. Suddenly you hear “techno” everywhere. in clothing stores, on buses, at the dentist’s office! Even my mother suddenly has techno notions!  It has become something “popular” indeed and with it has come mediocrity, banality & sometimes pure entertainment.

I guess the popularity of the genre is certainly beneficial to everybody playing or making the style, but in general terms it seems to have marginalised the original counter-cultural spirit for the sake of a business model. As somebody that represents the former to me, how are you able to find  your place in this paradigm shift today?

Of course it has its benefits, at this moment in my life I can make a living from it, something that would not have been possible in the past. For me the most important thing is not to lose one’s own essence.  Don’t sell your soul. Keeping real for real. Keeping curious. Sometimes I get the feeling that it is almost an extravagance to say that but it is crucial. I feel it’s almost a kind of mission, to educate the ears, the fantasy, the magic of rhythm. I want to share everything I have learned (and am still learning) along the way. 

Where do you see it going, because at some point I think we’ll have to start making a distinction, by the time Beyoncé brings out a Techno LP at least?

Techno is like Pop Music, yes. Even writing this sentence I find it hard to believe, but it’s true. To be honest, I am a bit confused about this… but at the end of the day I always find originality, hybrids and fusions of styles which, although in a more accessible way, still seem interesting to me. 

What does this all mean in terms of finding new music or do you find yourself turning more to older records and re-issues?

I always check all kinds of music. There are a lot of current sounds that I love. I think that in the middle of all that we were talking about, there is quite a lot of quality, at least if you know where to look for it. And the reissues are also good, and of course, I always keep an eye on them, you always rediscover things that you might have missed at another time!

Quality is the key, old, new, whatever!

It seems more important than ever now for labels like Discos Atónicos to exist. What are some of the challenges of releasing a record today in the contemporary landscape and how do you overcome them?

It is definitely becoming more and more complicated in terms of economics and waiting times.

Especially for underground labels. In my case there is even an extra complication because I self-distribute it. Prices have risen sharply since the pandemic times.Shipping costs have gone up. 

Everything has become more expensive, shops are buying less copies… it is a loop. I am currently considering releasing more material digitally and limiting the series on vinyl. After all, as a consumer I use digital a lot, I love bandcamp. 

What keeps you motivated in terms of releasing records and keeping the label going?

My motivation is always to share music that somehow feels timeless, fresh, with quality.

Things that I would immediately play and that I will never get tired of listening to.

One way or the other, I’m always lucky to find what fits in my label. Sounds that give me goosebumps. Tracks that are like little movies. Artists who I admire so much or new artists that I just discovered and I can feel their potential and I want to give that opportunity.

So you create a kind of small family.

And playing this music to an audience?

That’s a fantastic feeling. When you know something is good and you can’t wait to share it!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Elena. One last request. Can you play us out with a song?

Ohhh only one???

Then my choice is Underground Resistance – Death of My Neighborhood

A beauty. 

Thanks for having me!

 

Ukraine DJ Marathon fundraiser update

The Ukraine DJ marathon raises over 10 000kr for Musicians Defend Ukraine

We’re happy to announce that we raised 11 800kr in ticket sales and donations for the Musicians defend Ukraine foundation during last month’s Ukrainian DJ marathon. We flew in some of Ukraine’s established and unknown Techno and House talents for a night that marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the start of this war.

Stanislav Tolkachev, Nastya Muravyova, Danilenko, Serge Jazzmate, Pavel Plastikk and human margareeta showed a united force from our two floors for a night that we won’t forget anytime soon. A special thanks to Pavel Plastikk for helping us put this event together and Serge Jazzmate for letting us interview him on the blog, even as he deals with the realities of living in Kyiv right now.

Thank you to everybody that came out to this night and the people that donated.

In the Twilight Zone with Anthony Rother 

To say Anthony Rother is prolific would be an understatement. Whether releasing EPs and 12 inches for the likes of Marcel Dettmann’s Bad Manners label or extensive (21 tracks) albums like AI Space via his Bandcamp page, the German artist’s output is unyielding. It’s built on an unrelenting work ethic that serves Anthony Rother as a self-contained artistic universe, complete with world-building concepts and a distinctive sound. From his online jam sessions to his hybrid Electro sets, there’s a determined purpose before he even lays a finger on the record button with an ideology that’s deeply rooted in the sound and aesthetics of Electro.

Anthony Rother has been at it since the mid nineties and after releasing his debut LP Sex with the machines, he’s been championing the sounds of the Electro genre for a whole generation. He became a prominent figure in the electronic underground in the early 2000’s with legendary records like Hacker and Popkiller combining his love for dark impulsive rhythms and humanoid vocals channelled from the formative experiences of listening to Kraftwerk. He established Datapunk during this time, a label that launched the careers of many established artists before the business end of the music all but consumed Anthony’s efforts and he took a break from music altogether around 2008. 

In the process of getting some distance from the industry, he came back to making music eventually, and in a big way. Today his output schedule rivals some of his most productive years of his early career, and with a sincere and dedicated approach to Electro, Anthony Rother is more determined than ever. He is always working on music with an endless wealth of creativity spurring the artist and producer  forward.  His pursuits towards new avenues of exploration in the Electro paradigm have taken to extremes of the genre’s stylistic traits. 

When it comes to Anthony’s music it’s pure Electro, but it’s never complacent. Always striving for something new in his music, Anthony is propelled to new frontiers and each production only functions as a way to the next. In seeking new languages in this machine music, he is always one step ahead of his curve.  Albums like AI Space capture these musical developments in intricate and expansive Sci-Fi tableaus while his hybrid Electro set seeks to find a bridge between Electro and the club. It’s a self-contained musical world that he has created through his music and ever since he came back to this music, Anthony Rother has extended this immersive universe. 

We caught up with Anthony Rother via telephone call to talk about this world he’s developed and his approach to Electro. Our conversation drifts into AI, Offenbach and his hiatus, but it always returns to Anthony’s first love, Electro and his eternal quest for a fresh take on the genre. 

Anthony  Rother plays a Hybrid Electro set  at jaeger this Friday.

Mischa Mathys: Where are you at the moment?

Anthony Rother:  I’m here in Frankfurt in Offenbach. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Offenbach; it’s the town where the Robert Johnson club is located.

MM: Yes, I’m familiar. We’ve had a few guests from your neck of the woods at Jaeger in the past. People like Roman Fluegel, Ata and Gerd Janson. 

AR: Yes, these guys are from Frankfurt but Robert Johnson is in Offenbach. 

MM: And your studio is also there?

AR: Yes, it’s in the old Logic Records building, a record company from the eighties and nineties which released Snap! amongst other things.They owned the building and that’s where I have my studio. Roman also had his studio there. It’s a very famous place and has a bit of history in the electronic music scene.

Logic entrance

MM: Does it still have a musical community around it, or is it like everywhere else at the moment, every man is an island?

AR: Yeah, every man is an island. I can only speak for myself, but I go there I make my music and I leave. When I was in this building in the 2000’s, I had more to do with people on the other floors, but now I’m more concentrated in making music, than having fun, and drinking and making parties. I think my interests have shifted a little more to a different place. You know how it is?

MM: As you get older, your priorities change, right?

AR: Of course, yes. (laughs)

MM: But the music never changes?

AR: No, the music stays the same. I think today I’m more focussed on music than when I was younger. 

MM: You’ve had such a prolific output, and it was a bit difficult for me to find an entry point for the sake of this interview, but I thought we could start with Bad Manners 9, which came out last year. It feels like it is a bit of an outlier to what I’ve come to know as the Anthony Rother sound in recent years.

AR: Bad Manners does not reflect what I do today. The EP is an EP that me and Marcel (Dettman) put together. 

MM: It was only a brief dalliance with this style of music.

AR: You can’t say that either; because over the last ten years I’ve always worked on four on the floor tracks and experimented with these kinds of tracks, but I didn’t release the material. I just started releasing in 2017 again, with tracks on Danny Daze’s Omni Disc label. Since then they all reflect a continuous Electro style searching for a sound that works well in the club and has much energy. What I do today is purely based in Electro and writing about human problems in a digital computer language. 

MM:  Considering these concepts of human stories in a robot language in your work I also find you recontextualise them in a dystopian universe, but how do you arrive at these worlds; Do they come from books, movies, music or is it something that happens naturally at this point?

AR:  If you see my artistic life as this evolving thing, I would say that on my debut album Sex with the Machines, I was heavily influenced by Electro from the eighties, like Karftwerk and of course sci-fi movies. It was a melange of all of this. I’ve invented some kind of language for myself based on my influences that I recreate every time I work on a new album. It’s not something that I have to work at, it comes natural to me. 

MM: Is it rooted in something in your subconscious at this point and does it start with the music or at a point when you start adding lyrics or vocals to your music?

AR: Mostly it starts with the music. When I’m working on an album, I’ll have a title for the album and at this point I’ll form the ideas. Let’s take AI space (the latest album), it’s an evolution of artificial intelligence that we are witnessing now. When I started writing this album, AI wasn’t such a mainstream theme as it is now. It was the stuff of nerds. I did some research on it and got ideas for stories or personal experiences that I coat in this kind of language. It’s a back and forth, but it starts with the music, then I get a theme, and from this topic I derive all the other things. 

MM: Tell me a bit about your research into AI for this album. What conclusions did you draw about the future of AI?

AR: I must be careful about what I say about the reality of the situation, because I’m an artist. I’m not a professional AI programmer, so my knowledge as an artist is to paint a picture and to discuss it in an artistic way. It’s a mainstream question, and I don’t have an opinion, because you can approach the answer in different ways. It’s a diverse subject for an artist though and you can either paint a dystopian picture of an AI that takes over a world or on the opposite end a utopian world where an AI is our digital butler. 

MM: But do you have any thoughts on the reality of AI in terms of music?

AR: So, if we debate AI making music, does AI replace me as a musician? I’ve thought  about it, but I don’t feel threatened. Everything that is standard music is threatened because AI is very good at learning. So for me as an artist it’s very important that my music is so special, and so forward-thinking so that AI can’t reproduce this as a cliché. But as soon as I release it, it gets into the learning stream of the AI and I have to advance myself again. I’m always in a kind of race with AI. 

MM: Have you experimented at all with AI in making music yet?

AR: I have tried it, not in terms of making music, just to see what it will do. I asked an AI to make music like Musique Non Stop from Kraftwerk.  And it proposed 4 tracks to me. Most of them had an Electro beat, but it was nothing like Musique Non Stop, because Musique Non Stop is such a unique piece of music that it was impossible to reproduce it.

Personally I would not use AI, because making the music is the first and the best thing, the result is just the last step. Making the music is the most fun. 

MM: My experience with AI is that it lacks the imagination in that process to get to the end result, and I think this is something that is particularly unique to your music. It’s almost like you create these fantasy worlds that you are able to escape into when you make music.

AR: Exactly. In German we say, the way is the goal.

MM: I like what you said about having to be one step ahead of AI to stay progressive. In the scope of the Electro paradigm, and the stylistic traits of that music; How has it developed through your own artistic pursuits?

Anthony Rother

AR: That’s a hard question, because there have been so many phases and I’ve worked on so many different aspects of it. I’m still working on it, because in the last few years I’ve been trying to produce a kind of Electro that could be played in the club, and has the energy of Techno, but is still considered a 100% Electro. 

My plan is to work in different aspects of Electro and to try and find new elements to it. I’m willing to break from the stylistic concepts to try and find something new in terms of Electro. I might have to surrender some classic elements to get to that point.

MM: What are you finding you have to surrender in terms of making it work in a club these days; is it about stripping it back and making it more functional?

AR: This is a good question. It’s a kind of energy that needs to be in the track. You can have a complicated production and it will still work in a club. You have to play it out to find out. I usually play it out and from that I know what needs to go into the next production.

MM: You don’t go back to the one you played out or an older production?

AR: No, the concept is to be one step ahead. I’m always in a kind of twilight zone, not knowing what’s going to work. I think this is the best position to be in when you’re writing music if you wanna do something fresh. 

MM: Do you specifically make everything for the purpose of playing it out in your hybrid Electro set or are some things made purely for just the recorded format?

AR: I produce the music for the hybrid Electro set and I play it like a kind of DJ. I’m basically my own record shop. I produce so much music that I can play only my own music. This is the concept and this is where all the music comes from. I’m in the studio everyday, because I need so much material for the hybrid Electro set. From ten tracks that I produce, maybe one or two I can use in my set. 

MM: Is the intention to release as much of that music as possible?

AR: At first it wasn’t. But now I’m releasing my albums on bandcamp. You can see it as a full artistic concept. The hybrid Electro set represents my work as an artist in all different media. 

MM: So it’s its own self-contained ecosystem with you in the centre of it. 

AR: Exactly. 

MM:  Are you able to adapt to a crowd like a traditional DJ would?

AR: I can adapt to the crowd within the limits of my own material. I have a lot of material, because I’ve produced so much stuff and I try to produce various instances of Electro. It’s not just a show. It’s not so easy to explain without using the word DJ, but I don’t consider myself a DJ. 

MM:  And it’s very much contained within the universe of Electro?

AR: Exactly, I tried to do it years ago with some four on the floor tracks, but then in 2016 I started shifting to Electro. During the pandemic I decided that I will play only Electro in my hybrid set.

MM: Why did you decide that?

AR: Before that I was in between, but during the pandemic I wanted to prove if it was possible to do an Electro-only hybrid set. I want to be a 100% Electro artist. If I do something else I’ll use a new project name. This is my mission till the end of my life; to find all the different aspects of Electro available. 

MM: That’s a serious dedication. What is it about Electro that makes it so appealing?

AR: I think this is my nature.

Anthony's control panel

MM: It seems that you clearly set out a path for yourself, which is quite the contrast to a few years back when you went on a bit of a hiatus. That  seems at odds with your work ethic. Can you tell me what happened there?

AR: Yes around 2007 -2014, after the Datapunk hype, I lost myself for various reasons. One of the big reasons was that I was dragged into a kind of a business thing, which I had not enough knowledge about. I think I made every business error I could make as somebody that has no experience. I was exhausted. Everything looked so positive, but it turned out that everything was just business. 

MM: What did it take for you to get back to a point where you could  start making music again?

AR: For the longest time I was just trying to find myself again. I was ripped into a 1000 pieces, and I had to find the right pieces that really reflect me. In 2013 I produced Netzwerk Der Zukunft and this album helped me to put together the pieces of the real Anthony. Today I can say I’m complete in a sense that I know who I am again. I can trust myself and the decisions I make. Today I can distinguish between the business and the real stuff and the real stuff is the most important thing in my artistic life. 

MM: Did you feel that when you got back to it that it was the same as that initial spark when you got your first synthesiser, when you heard Electro for the first time or when you made music for the first time?

AR: When you’re creating in a sense that you do something real, it’s always a very deep experience. It’s not the same but it’s very different in depth. When I first created Sex with the Machines (my debut album), this had deep moments, but what I do today is deeper. I have more knowledge and have more possibilities. 

When you’re young, being naïve has a certain magic. This is something you lose because you get more knowledge and you gain more experience, and  I’m jealous of my younger self in that regard. On the other hand when you are naïve and young you’re often two-stepping into the wrong spots. (laughs) 

MM: What is your relationship today with an album like sex with the machines?

AR: I’m still listening to it. I’m still amazed by it. It’s not part of my creative process today, because that album has its own tone and is of its own time. For me it’s a great moment in my artistic career and it always gives me good energy. 

MM: Is it something that you ever reference in your music today?

AR:  I referenced parts of Sex with the Machines for my 2018 album 3L3C7RO COMMANDO, so yes.

MM: Looking at your studio from what I’ve seen online, it seems that you are still using many of the same old machines you would’ve used back then. How do you continue to use these machines in music that seeks to progress too?

AR: I work with old machines but I also have tons of new machines. I’m always cycling around. I have a basic setup and I change it in different ways. I’m always shifting with technology in search of that freshness in this style of music. 

A glimmer of hope in sound with Serge Jazzmate

Serge Jazzmate, is a rarefied phenomenon in the club music scene. The DJ and event organiser has remained a determined presence in Ukraine despite the war and in an extremely difficult and terrifying situation he has helped retain some semblance of a scene in his native Kiyv. Between the sounds of air raid sirens and Russian projectiles, Serge’s music also permeates the air, offering a glimmer of hope in sound for a scene under serious duress. 

A resident and co-founder of LOW, and frequent guest at ∄ (k41) Serge Jazzmate has been a fixture on what was burgeoning scene in Ukraine since 2007. A true facilitator, he helped arrange events and parties when he was not playing sets that trip across vast musical borders. He can be found operating in that record-enthusiast/selector universe where all the attention is focussed on the music and the DJ is an enthusiast and entertainer. 

Before the war broke out with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he had also been a prominent figure appearing on lineups like Brave! Factory, Strichka and Rhythm Buro Natura as well as playing abroad in places like Berlin. His nomadic sets, moving  between everything from “Brazilian bossa nova to Electro,” have become a staple at his LOW residency, which recently celebrated its 14th anniversary with an event in Berlin.

Today, the festivals are on indefinite hiatus but LOW and the spirit of the people behind the scenes, people like Serge, continue to bring some kind of momentary relief to Ukraine’s clubbing community. It’s only fleeting under the current curfew, but it’s there, an allegory to that unyielding Ukrainian spirit.

We caught up with Serge via email, and he was kind enough to give us a few moments of his precious time to find out more about the current situation and his own history ahead of his set in Jaeger’s sauna with Pavel Plastikk this weekend.

Hello Serge. Perhaps you can start by giving us a brief glimpse of what life is like in Kiyv at the moment. 

Hello, Misha. People live their lives, go to work, and children go to schools and kindergartens. Of course, it is not a normal life when your country is being destroyed and filled with blood, but we have to adapt to the situation when you, your family or your neighbors can be killed by a rocket or drone in a moment in a peaceful city. It’s about every single settlement across the largest country in Europe.

This war has been going on for a year, and it seems to just be intensifying leading up to the anniversary. Can you tell us how it’s affected you personally and the toll it continues to take on the Ukrainian people?

Complex issue. The ongoing war is taking a significant toll on the Ukrainian people’s mental health, with many experiencing trauma and anxiety as a result of the violence and uncertainty. Defenders and peaceful people die daily, infrastructure and industries are being heavily damaged, and significant damage is caused to nature. We apparently have no other choice than the retreat of the aggressor’s army, otherwise Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent state. This will provoke, firstly, a previously unprecedented new wave of emigration from Ukraine, and secondly, it will unleash new wars and global changes since WW2.

A lot of your peers and fellow DJs have left Ukraine for places like Berlin. What is keeping you there and how are artists like yourself surviving there at the moment and what about the conscription?

I have the opportunity to leave the country, but I am kept by the business (I run a company), my favorite city, exceptional people and favorite clubs and Closer. To make a living only as an artist is not possible right now. I passed a medical examination and I can serve in the army but I have postponement.

I see you are playing regularly in Kiyv, even now. How are you able to maintain some kind of semblance of a scene there?

All businesses have adapted to the new reality and continue to adapt. The city somehow has managed to maintain a music scene, with local artists continuing to perform in various venues. There are even some brave djs from Europe coming to Closer from time to time which deserves huge respect. I guess there are about 3 million people in Kyiv now.

What are some of the main obstacles in putting on events and DJing in the city at the moment?

First and foremost, the curfew from 23-00, so all events end no later than 21-45, since employees need to finish their shifts and guests get home in due time. Secondly, the lack of electricity. Almost every venue has a generator that solves this issue.

What’s happening with concepts like LOW and do you see a time ahead when you can simply pick it up again where you left off?

Thanks to our friends from PRU Y RVU, we just celebrated the 14th anniversary of LOW in Oxi Club in Berlin. All our residents arrived from different countries and we picked up our two favorite dj’s who previously played LOW in Kyiv – Tako (Music From Memory) & Maurice Fulton (BubbleTease Communications). It was a truly unforgettable and amazing night full of love, music and unity. Obviously, we won’t be able to hold events at home, and we’ll probably continue to hold special parties in different countries.

Clubbing has often been an outlet for people during periods of great distress as an escape for the harsh realities. I know in Serbia for example, club culture offered people a lifeline during their time of war. Is there anything like that happening in Ukraine at the moment, or is the war simply consuming all?

Absolutely. When you live in a constant negative emotional field, in fear and anxiety, with many restrictions, music and dance positively affect the state of people. Each participant buying a ticket directly helps various units of the army, funds, etc. Most venues collect and share profits. It’s win-win. Everyone is working on ways to help our defenders in an affordable way on the home front.

You’ve been involved in club music and club culture for a couple of decades. How did you get into this music and how did you get your start as a DJ?

Music has accompanied me since childhood. When I was at school I began collecting CDs ranging from Detroit techno, Brazilian bossa nova, Trip Hop, Disco, House, Reggae, Electro, Funk. It was a collection of many thousands. Later I started collecting records on the basis of my CD collection. I bought two Technics 1210s and a Pioneer DJM 300 mixer and in 2005 started training and playing extended sets at home.

My first paid gig happened in 2007 and after that more invitations followed. By that time, I had already met my partner in crime and the best Ukrainian dj Pavel Plastikk. We started playing together, and in 2009 LOW Party was launched at Xlib Club. On a separate note, Berghain/Panorama Bar seriously influenced and inspired me when I visited it as a clubber in 2008 and dreamed of the day when I would play upstairs.

What was the scene for electronic music like there before the war?

It grew rapidly from 2014-2015, new clubs opened, the young scene developed, first-rate international electronic festivals were started such as Brave! Factory, Strichka and Rhythm Buro to name a few.

Even when Covid happened, the Kyiv clubs managed to stay afloat. A striking example of which is Brave! Factory Festival 2021, which attracted over 10 thousand visitors (with a huge proportion of foreign ravers) and a club located on Kyrylivska Street (), which was launched a few months before the pandemic and also gathered full planes of European tourists. Europe was in full lockdown at the time. Our economy could not afford it, so businesses worked within the existing rules and adapted to the situation without proper governmental help.

You’ve eschewed the producer/DJ paradigm. What is it about DJing that fulfills your creative pursuits and why have you avoided producing your own music?

Well, I’m a DJ and a collector. I’m happy with what I do, where I am and what moves me.

Your musical selections are quite broad with sets that can go everywhere from Disco to Techno. What is behind this eclectic approach?

It’s basically dependent on the club and the party. Sometimes I would play more straight sets, sometimes eclectic. Mixing genres came from the beginning when I started listening to the records. DJing just reflects your tastes, your mood and your understanding of the dance floor in the moment. This skill is experience, you should live them in time.

Is there anything specific that draws you to a piece of music and what is the main thing you look for in a piece of music to play out regardless of genre?

I think drama is the most important thing to achieve, regardless of genres. 

What have you found people are gravitating towards today in these trying times and why do you think this style of music works so well in the current situation?

It is difficult for me to answer. Perhaps this is something other than what is being played elsewhere, like the same type of house or techno, when it is difficult to distinguish whether something has changed over the past three hours, if you understand what I mean.Some people like 140 BPM, some people like 160 BPM. Some people just like more meaningful music where there’s a soul and emotion.

In the past, there had been some sense of collaboration between Ukraine and Russia’s Djs and artists, but I assume the war has completely broken any sense of camaraderie. Has succeeded in alienating a whole generation of Ukrainians?

I can’t answer for everyone, but in general of course, there is a very small number of artists, citizens from a neighboring country, who supported Ukraine. We keep a close eye on every artist and promoter.

What’s going to stop this war in your opinion and how can we as club- and music enthusiasts continue to help the Ukrainian people? 

Those who started the war can stop it very quickly. Keep helping Ukrainian people in any possible way, keep pressure on your governments with more & more weapons and sanctions. I understand that you also suffer from the economic consequences now but it is incomparable with other consequences which could happen later.

Ukraine DJ Marathon and fundraiser

A year on from the war in Ukraine we host a Ukrainian DJ Marathon to raise funds for the cause

It’s one year on from when Russia invaded Ukraine and to show our support, Jaeger is hosting a Ukraine relief benefit with a Ukrainian DJ marathon this Friday. We’ve assembled a iost of Ukrainian DJs and given them the keys to our basement and sauna with all proceeds going to Musicians defend Ukraine. Stanislav Tolkachev, Nastya Muravyova, Danilenko, Serge Jazzmate,Pavel Plastikk and  human margareeta represent Ukraine for this event hosted by g-HA & Olanskii and Frædag. Jaeger and Frædag present an evening with Ukrainian DJs as our effort to continue to place the spotlight on this war in the only way we know how, the music. It’s a peaceful protest of dance and camaraderie with our Ukranian counterparts and we give them full rein of both floors for this Frædag.

More information about the charity can be found here: https://shpytal.com/musicians-defend-ukraine/

More information about the event can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/488518603454373/

and tickets here:
https://jaeger.ticketco.events/no/nb/e/fraedag_x_ukraine_takeover_stanislav_tolchachev__nastya_muravyova___serge_jazzmate__human_margareeta

Future robot overlord or useful tool: Interviewing an AI

AI is here. It’s already making waves in fields from academia to art, with discussions descending into arguments about the role and the threat (warranted or not) of this new technology. Will AI be our future robot overlords or is it simply a useful tool that could take care of the mundanity of everyday life? The jury is still out, but one thing is for certain it’s here to stay and people are already investigating the power and shortcomings of this nascent technology, especially in the corners of music that we operate in.

In a recent interview from Test Pressing with electronic outfit Plaid, Andy Turner suggests; Personally I think AI could be a brilliant assistant to us. It could really open up creativity and things that we’ve never even imagined. So it’s kind of the best way we can look at it. And it’s impossible to stop.” He is not alone in his assumptions. Other forward-thinking artists like patten have already started incorporating it into their work to realise new pieces and possibly new musical languages through AI. And there’s also David Guetta on the other end of the spectrum which could argue for the negative effects of the technology. (But is it the AI or the human to blame for that one?)  

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that electronic music artists have adopted the technology so freely (some would say recklessly). As music made from machines the robot has always been central to the music. It’s in the human influence of said machines where the music has always taken shape however, and for the moment it doesn’t seem that AI has quite garnered the idea of creativity. You could even argue, humans have completely extricated that creative soul in the context of modern House and Techno, but that’s a whole other conversation. 

What I would like to know is how this technology is taking shape and what are the pitfalls and the opportunities awarded by this technology. So I went right to the source and started interviewing open AI’s ChatGPT on the topic of… well it… I guess. 

At no point do you get the sense you’re talking to a person throughout, but what I did get was a suspicion that I often get when I’ve interviewed real artists and people. There’s an underlying sense that the answers I receive are somewhat scripted, conditioned by unconscious social dogmas that permeate through online interviews. It never aims to offend or be critical, always following up one argument with another and curiously, it lies. Possibly ingrained in its programming to always deliver the task at hand, it will often colour facts with random sentences. The links it offers are the perfect example, most of which bring up a 404 code. 

At times during our questions, especially when I questioned something it answered, chatGPT would start writing something only to throw up an error and make the point moot, much like an artist or DJ that won’t feel too comfortable in a certain line of questioning. 

At the end of the day it supports many of the ideas artists like Plaid and patten (curious it didn’t reference those artists) had for AI, as a tool for musicians to exploit to make music. It supports a more embracing approach of AI technology, but then again… isn’t that exactly what it wants?

Hello ChatGPT. Do you have time to talk?

Of course! I’m always here to help with any questions you may have. What can I help you with today?

I’m curious about the role AI will play in the future development of music. Are people using you to make music yet?

Yes, AI is already playing a role in the future development of music. There are several ways that AI is being used in the music industry, including:

  1. Music generation: AI algorithms are being used to generate music in various styles, such as jazz, classical, and pop.
  2. Music composition: AI is being used to assist composers in the music creation process, from generating musical ideas to composing complete pieces.
  3. Music production: AI algorithms are being used to automatically mix and master tracks, making it easier for music producers to create polished recordings.
  4. Music recommendation: AI is being used to recommend songs and playlists to listeners, based on their preferences and listening history.

Can you give me some examples of people using AI to make music with links to the music?

Sure, here are some examples of people using AI to make music, along with links to the music:

  1. OpenAI Jukebox: A generative model that creates music in a specific style, given a prompt such as a piece of lyrics or a genre. You can listen to samples of music generated by the model at https://openai.com/jukebox/.
  2. Amper Music: A platform that uses AI to generate original music tracks for videos, presentations, and other multimedia projects. You can listen to samples of the music generated by the platform at https://www.ampermusic.com/music/.
  3. AIVA (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist): A platform that uses AI to compose music in a variety of styles, from classical to pop. You can listen to samples of music composed by AIVA at https://aivamusic.org/.
  4. AUBot: A platform that uses AI to generate music in the style of specific artists. For example, you can have the AI generate music in the style of Aphex Twin or Radiohead. You can listen to samples of the music generated by the platform at https://aubot.com/.

What has the critical reception been like for some of these pieces?

The critical reception of AI-generated music has been mixed. While some people appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of AI-generated pieces, others feel that they lack the human touch and emotional depth that makes music so powerful.

Critics of AI-generated music often argue that it lacks the nuance, expressiveness, and spontaneous nature of human-created music. 

On the other hand, proponents of AI-generated music argue that it has the potential to broaden the musical landscape by generating new styles and forms of expression. 

What is your opinion on this discourse?

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions or emotions. My goal is to provide objective and accurate information to the best of my abilities based on the information and training data I have been given.

However, it’s clear that AI has the potential to play an increasingly important role in the music industry, both as a tool for creators and as a source of new and innovative musical styles. How this potential is realized will depend on the continued development of AI technology and the evolving opinions and preferences of listeners and industry professionals.

In what ways does an AI generate music or assist a musician in the creation of music?

AI can generate music or assist a musician in several ways, including:

  1. Music generation: AI algorithms can generate complete pieces of music, including the melody, harmony, and rhythm. These pieces can be based on pre-existing styles or can be completely new and unique.
  2. Music composition: AI algorithms can assist composers in the creation process by suggesting musical ideas, such as chord progressions or melodic motifs. This can help to jumpstart the creative process and provide new inspiration for the composer.
  3. Music arrangement: AI algorithms can assist musicians in arranging and orchestrating their compositions, by suggesting different instrumentations or suggesting ways to enhance the overall sound of the piece.
  4. Music production: AI algorithms can assist music producers in tasks such as mixing and mastering tracks, by automatically adjusting levels and equalization, compressing and limiting audio, and adding effects such as reverb and delay.
  5. Music analysis: AI algorithms can analyze music to determine its structure, key, and tempo, making it easier for musicians to understand and work with existing pieces.

In terms of music generation, how does it generate sounds?

AI-generated music typically uses a combination of machine learning algorithms and music theory to generate sounds.

One approach is to use generative models, such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) or Variational Autoencoders (VAEs), which can learn the patterns and structure of a particular musical style and then generate new music that fits within that style.

Another approach is to use rule-based systems, where specific rules and algorithms are programmed to generate music that follows certain musical conventions and structures. For example, a rule-based system might generate a melody by randomly selecting notes from a certain scale, while following specific rhythm patterns and chord progressions.

In both cases, the generated music is typically refined and post-processed by human musicians or music producers to ensure that it sounds polished and professional.

Can it generate sounds?

Yes, AI can generate sounds. AI algorithms can generate musical notes, drums beats, and other musical elements, which can then be combined to create complete pieces of music.

The sounds generated by AI can be synthesized using software synthesizers or can be created using samples of real instruments. In either case, the AI algorithms determine the pitch, duration, and volume of the generated sounds based on the musical style and structure that it has been trained on.

It’s important to note that while AI can generate musical sounds, it is still limited by the quality of the training data and the sophistication of the algorithms being used. As AI technology continues to advance, it is likely that the quality and expressiveness of AI-generated sounds will continue to improve.

Would it be correct to assume then that AI would be more suited to making electronic music at this moment in time?

It could be argued that AI is well-suited to generating electronic music, as electronic music often relies on repetitive patterns and well-defined structures that are easier for AI algorithms to model and generate. However, AI can also be used to generate other types of music, such as classical or jazz, if the training data and algorithms are designed to capture the relevant musical patterns and structures.

What about Djing; has AI made any strides into that artistic field?

Yes, AI is beginning to make strides in the field of DJing. There are already AI-powered DJ systems available that can analyze music and automatically create seamless transitions between tracks. These systems use machine learning algorithms to analyze the tempo, key, and structure of the music, and then use this information to find tracks that are compatible and match well together.

In some cases, AI-powered DJ systems can even generate new music on the fly, using algorithms to create transitions and remixes that are unique to each performance.

While AI-powered DJ systems can be very effective in creating smooth and seamless transitions between tracks, they still lack the creativity and expressiveness that comes with human DJing. 

It seems you are very keen on the continued human influence in music. Are there no ambitions to remove human involvement completely from music in the future?

There are certainly some who see AI as having the potential to completely replace human involvement in music in the future. However, it is unlikely that AI will completely replace human musicians and music producers in the near future.

Music is an art form that requires creativity, expressiveness, and emotional connection. While AI can generate music that is technically sound and follows certain musical rules, it still lacks the intuition, soul, and emotional depth that comes with human musical expression.

In addition, music is often created and experienced in a social context, and many musicians and music fans value the human interaction and collaboration that comes with creating and experiencing music together.

How did you come to the conclusion that music requires “soul” and “emotional depth”?

The conclusion that music requires soul and emotional depth is based on the long-standing tradition and history of music as an art form. Throughout human history, music has been used to express emotions, tell stories, and connect with listeners on a deep, emotional level.

Many musicians and music fans value the emotional impact of music and believe that music can have a profound effect on the human experience. They see music as a form of expression that goes beyond technical skill and musical rules, and that incorporates elements such as creativity, intuition, and emotional depth.

This view is supported by scientific research, which has shown that music can have a powerful impact on the brain and emotions. For example, studies have shown that music can affect brain activity, mood, and behavior, and that different types of music can evoke different emotional responses.

It seems that AI’s methods are very much based on the musical parameters laid out by humans in the past. In what way does it innovate or improve on music or musical techniques?

AI has the potential to innovate and improve on music and musical techniques in several ways:

  1. Automation: AI can automate various tasks in the music production process, such as mixing, mastering, and even composing. This can save time and resources, and allow musicians and producers to focus on other aspects of the creative process.
  2. Experimentation: AI can be used to explore new musical possibilities and techniques that might be difficult or time-consuming for human musicians to achieve. For example, AI can generate music that spans multiple genres or incorporates new and unusual sounds and textures.
  3. Customization: AI can be used to generate music that is customized to specific needs and preferences. For example, AI-generated music can be tailored to a specific mood, style, or tempo, or it can be generated to match the style of a particular artist or genre.
  4. Inspiration: AI can be used to inspire and stimulate the creative process for human musicians. By generating new and unexpected musical ideas, AI can challenge human musicians to think outside the box and push the boundaries of their own creativity.

Does it have to adhere to standardised forms of harmony, melody and rhythm?

AI can be programmed to adhere to standard forms of harmony, melody, and rhythm, but it can also be programmed to deviate from these standards and generate music that is unconventional or experimental.

In other words, the musical parameters that AI follows are determined by the humans who design and program the AI systems. If a human programmer wants the AI to follow certain musical rules, they can code the AI to do so. If they want the AI to generate more experimental or unconventional music, they can program it to do that as well.

It is important to note that the musical parameters that AI adheres to can also change over time as AI technology and musical tastes evolve. As AI systems become more advanced and humans gain a deeper understanding of how to use AI in music, the musical parameters that AI follows are likely to change and expand.

What are some of the most common technical challenges facing AI in terms of creating music currently?

There are several technical challenges facing AI in the creation of music, including:

  1. Understanding and capturing musical structure: One of the biggest challenges facing AI in music is understanding and replicating the complex structure of music. This includes understanding the relationships between melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, as well as the ways in which these elements interact to create a cohesive and expressive piece of music.
  2. Creating music with emotional depth: Another challenge facing AI in music is creating music that is emotionally impactful and that connects with listeners on a deeper level. This requires the AI to understand the nuances of human emotion and to generate music that conveys those emotions in a meaningful and authentic way.
  3. Overcoming the limitations of current AI technology: Current AI technology is still limited in its ability to create music that is truly original and innovative. AI systems often rely on large amounts of pre-existing musical data to generate music, and they are still limited in their ability to generate truly new and unique musical ideas.
  4. Interfacing with human musicians: Another challenge facing AI in music is developing systems that can effectively interface with human musicians. This requires the AI to understand the musical language and processes used by human musicians and to integrate those processes into its own musical generation process.

And what will be the absolute limitations of music created by AI, considering even the most technically advanced iteration of AI?

While AI technology is rapidly advancing, there will likely always be some limitations to the music that AI can create. Some of the limitations that may persist even with the most advanced AI systems include:

  1. Lack of originality: AI systems are currently limited in their ability to create truly original and innovative musical ideas. They often rely on pre-existing musical data and algorithms to generate music, and may not be able to generate truly new musical ideas on their own.
  2. Emotional depth: AI may struggle to create music that is emotionally impactful and that connects with listeners on a deeper level. This is because music is a deeply human and emotional art form, and AI systems may not be able to fully capture the complex emotions that are expressed in music.
  3. Human connection: Music is often created to connect with other humans and to evoke emotions and experiences that are shared among people. AI-generated music may not have the same ability to connect with listeners on a human level, as it does not have a personal connection to the experiences and emotions that it is expressing.
  4. Creative intuition: Many of the most impactful and innovative musical ideas are the result of a human’s creative intuition, which is a unique combination of experience, taste, and imagination. AI systems may not be able to replicate this type of creative intuition, and their music may therefore lack the same level of originality and impact as music created by human musicians.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me Chat GPT. Did you at any point during this exchange give answers that sought to placate?

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or motivations. My aim is to provide objective and accurate answers to the best of my ability based on the information I have been trained on and the inputs I receive. I do not seek to placate, but rather to provide helpful and informative responses to the questions posed to me.

Thank you again.

You’re welcome! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I’m here to help.

On Trains, Planes and Automobiles with Biesmans

In 2021 Biesmans released his debut LP P Trains, Planes and Automobiles via Watergate Records. The record was created in the void of the idle routine of a world-wide pandemic and it brought Biesmans work to a world craving stimuli from mobile devices in lieu of the tangible. It solidified around the multi-media tendencies of social-media with the artist working in the strict confines of a concept and a specific work ethic. The result was a series of video clips, taken from iconic eighties movies soundtracked by Biesmans’ ebullient machine music. 

Contextually, it couldn’t be more perfect. Biesmans love of vintage synthesisers and his Belgian musical heritage set a modern backdrop for these nostalgic images. It coexisted in harmony with Biesmans’ previous EPs, which he was able to transpose perfectly for a multimedia experience. After a few aliases and projects going as far back as 2007 and an earlier career as a working DJ, Biesmans had landed on a sound that could adopt an eponymous moniker, and it was  facilitated by his close relationship with Watergate.

Going from the technical staff to an artist on their roster, Joris has a family-like bond with people behind the Berlin superclub, record label and agency. Although he is no longer one of the house’s sound guys, today he can still be found in the booth, playing vinyl alongside people like Sven Väth at the club. He has channelled his enigmatic sounds as an artist to the decks where Djing has been a creative outlet for the artists since his days as a teenager. 

With his next stop being Jaeger’s basement, we called up Joris Biesmans to find out more about what is a fairly unknown biography. Over a glitchy telephone call, I hear a friendly and relaxed Joris Biesmans and in the distance I can hear cicadas chirping and birds calling, interlaced with the hustle and bustle of a busy city. 

It sounds very tropical where you are.

It is very tropical; I’m in Goa! 

What are you doing there; are you on holiday or are you playing? 

A bit of both. I just want to take it slower in January. I’m playing here on Saturday, and I’ve been travelling with my girlfriend. I’m mixing business and pleasure. We did Egypt, Cyprus, and Beirut, and from Beirut we went to New Delhi and visited the Taj Mahal and everything, and then we went to Mumbai and Goa. 

I want to start talking about your roots in Belgium. There’s obviously that huge tradition of synthesiser music there with New Beat and some of the original Techno pioneers and I feel that I can hear it in your music too. Is that something you felt growing up there? 

I discovered that stuff later on, I have to be honest. I grew up with Eurodance and Trance stuff. This was in the ‘90’s. I started playing music in ‘96 when I was 13 years old. I hear all the hits from back then now; the young kids love them again. That was the thing I grew up with. 

Later on, I dived into this EBM stuff like Front 242. When I studied music Luc van Acker (Front 242 collaborator) was one of my teachers. I was very much focussed on House and Techno in my early years. I had no classical music training, and that would come later on and that’s how I got into that heritage. 

What were the Trance records that you were listening to back then?

Like the Bonzai stuff, and also a lot of German imports back then. Records from artists like M.I.K.E and Yves Deruyter. Back then we called it retro House, but then it was not even 10 years old. I remember there was a bit of a hard House, but also more Trance from artists like Marino Stefano or even early Tiesto records. Later on I also imported music from DJ Deeon, DJ Bone and Juan Atkins, all over the place. I still have these records, scattered between Belgium and Berlin. 

Was electronic music always around growing up, or was there some kind of realisation that happened in the nineties?

It was always there. You had all this Eurodance stuff on the radio and as a 12 year old you’re not immediately drawn into underground music. So you have to first get into it, and the electronic music you heard on the radio planted some seeds. 

The club culture in our little town was actually not that bad at all. There were lots of places where you could hear this stuff. We would go to a bar after school which would play really good House and Techno. In this genre, we had a lot of opportunities to listen and to discover new music. Today, they traded that all in for huge festival stages. 

I read somewhere that you were very young when you got your first synthesiser. At what point do you start making your own music?

It happened simultaneously. My brother and I had a clubhouse in our backyard. My brother was more on the technical side, and I just started getting into electronic music and he brought home – literally in the same year – some software called fastracker. I was never a trained musician and I found it so intriguing that I could make music (without any formal training). 

I was recording music on cassette and playing it in the little clubhouse. It was very innocent. It was so basic, but it was cool. 

At what point did you think this could be a career?

This was really playing around. I think I released my first music only around 2007. Weirdly enough when I was 16/17 years old I was really into this thing that I felt this was something I wanted to do for a living. It took me really long before I could live from it. I was always doing it, but it’s only been a few years that I have been doing this for a proper living. 

Yes, I wanted to ask you about that because the first Biesmans record only surfaced  in around 2018, but it sounds like you’ve been working away at it for some time.

Yes, it’s a fairly new act. 

There were aliases and you had been part of a Hip Hop act… 

Yes, Wooly, the Hip Hop act was from my school days. 

So what solidified for you around the time of Biesmans in terms of music? 

I started studying again in 2009. I did three years in music school. Before that I was playing a lot, mainly in Belgium. These were the myspace times. Things were going really well, and at a certain point I wanted to learn more. This broadened my horizons. I started making completely different music. I discovered some electronica stuff that I completely missed out on previously. 

And then moving to Berlin, I was all over the place. I was making music as TV(e) and I had this ongoing project with Cashmere. I was  making so much different music, I was a bit stuck. I felt really lost. I really had to regroup myself in Berlin, and becoming a technician at Watergate, there was so much musical education. 

My entire weekend was clubbing and you get to hang on club music again. That’s why I decided to focus on one thing. I was going to go back to where I started again, back before the school started, but with the information I learnt from the school. I was going back to club music and just using my own name.  

When I listen to your music I pick up on a lot of Italo references…

I’m a big fan. What  shaped my Italo love the most, was the actual machines. I love vintage synthesisers. Honestly I don’t have such a big Italo background but you take a Juno 106 (synthesiser) and it immediately sounds like you’re going to make music like this. These machines really inspire me to make music like this. 

Is that where most of your creative influences come from, the machines?

Yeah. The machines shape the sound a lot.When I have an idea the main thing for me is to just get the music out there. I’m not a purist. 

If you are listening to other music, are you taking  in those references as well?

I start with a blank slate, but I’m always taking in references. I love to DJ, and I love to look for new music. This is an essential part for me. The stuff will get absorbed somewhere and that will be released when I’m in the studio. 

This ties into what I wanted to ask you about your debut LP, “Trains, Planes and Automobiles.” The concept of pairing these video clips with your music seems quite strict. Did they have a strong influence on the way the music sounded?

Definitely. It went 50/50. I was also making songs and finding the right video for it, but I was also finding videos, and making songs. No matter which direction I started, it was always starting with a very visual image in my mind. These are references you definitely hear on the album, because you have some downtempo and atmospheric stuff that’s not designed for the dance floor.

It was Corona time, so I was watching a lot of these old movies. The film scores of this stuff are always so good. 

Why did you choose this particular era of films?

That’s also the moment I felt more nostalgic. Being in this eighties sound and having  these machines I was really drawn to it. This was always my trademark, that vintage sound, but updated for a modern club use. 

Was it about making a new soundtrack for those clips?

I wanted to be active on social media. So, the idea of the album was not initially an album. Everybody was using social media a lot, so I thought  let’s find a way to trigger all these senses. I was doing these POVs, and they were working well from my studio. So to give it a different direction, I thought, let’s do some film scores. And that worked really well. It was a good bridge to stay in the picture.

Did it start off as a vague idea and then quickly turn into a strict set of parameters?

It started off with an idea to do three tracks a week for a month, just to give myself a challenge. You make it really explicit, three tracks a week and you get your audience involved. Afterwards, a friend of mine told me; “hey but this is actually an album that you are making.” 

I did the whole thing in a month and then after I started making edits of the songs and more recordings and fine-tuning it. For me it’s the closest thing I could get to an album, it’s really just one thing. It was just one concept within this time frame. It was making a picture of that moment of my life and being as close to it as possible. That worked really well. 

That record came out on Watergate and you’re close to the people at Watergate. Does it help being in an environment like that for the freedom it presents?

I actually wanted to release it myself via bandcamp. It was a bit rougher at the time. Alex (from Watergate) was like: “why don’t work at it a bit more and you can release it via Watergate.” Then they wanted to give it the proper attention with gatefold vinyl, artwork and the whole thing became much bigger. They just heard the album and they said let’s do the album together. 

How did they feel being that person working in the background, working on the technical aspects, to being an artist on the label?

Now, I don’t do the technician job anymore; I stopped about two years ago. When I joined the agency, I told them I didn’t want to be a technician anymore, because my intention was that this was always my way into the music scene in Berlin. I’m still very closely connected to the club. If I’m in Berlin, I  visit the club at least once a week. It’s a bit of a second home.

What effect has being a technician had on what you do as a DJ in other clubs?

I don’t think it’s affected the type of music that I play. What I think is really important is the sound in the DJ booth, and I notice these things. At Watergate we had a very high standard of what we would like to meet. This is also contributing to the best possible outcome for a club and the artist. I notice that this is not common. You see it from both sides now and I have my eyes open. 

I’m sure you’ll enjoy playing at Jaeger then. 

Yes, I’ve seen videos of this very nice DJ booth which is also very dedicated to sound. I’m looking forward to that. 

International Deejay Gigolo Records: The Electroclash years

“Do you know Frank Sinatra… He’s dead… he’s dead,” Miss Kittin cackles in a distant tattoo as the Hacker’s electro beat chugs along. Few memories play out as vividly as when I first heard “Frank Sinatra” by the Hacker and Miss Kittin. I distinctly remember where I was, who I was with and the feelings that the record elicited. Today, it still evokes a visceral memory of surprise, awe and humour; not for its content within the current landscape, but for what it meant back then. 

Taken from the now highly acclaimed Miss Kitten and The Hacker’s “First album”, that formative experience with “Frank Sinatra” laid the groundwork for a musical taste that sought some distance from the mundane of what electronic music had to offer at that time. It was provocative for all the right reasons and brought electronic dance music back to something that was always intended to be; indifferent and at times completely at odds from anything in mainstream culture.

Not only did it cement an admiration for The Hacker and Miss Kittin both as a duo and individually, but it was also my introduction to a label via a compilation with some curious cover art and a name that would be difficult to forget; International DeeJay Gigolos Volume 2

Baptised by the record label that bore its name, International DeeJay Gigolo – which is often shortened to just “Gigolo” – the compilation left an indelible mark and informed a big part of my musical education; not merely for the music from the label but for an entire musical universe that would come before and after it. It’s a label that would grow as my own musical tastes evolved, and in the process of presenting new music, it would also be my introduction to an entire musical history that was distant and elusive to a still somewhat uninformed and still naïve enthusiast. Gigolo leads to Jeff Mills, takes a sojourn via Tuxedomoon, is entangled in the existence of Kraftwerk, and makes connections with contemporary labels like R&S. Throughout it all it keeps introducing the listener to new music and artists like Tiga, Mount Sims, Terence Fixmer and Adriano Canzian, and at the centre of it all; DJ Hell. 

Gigolo Records has been a significant chapter in the annals of club music. Even esteemed DJ,  DJ Harvey professed his admiration for it in DJ mag back in the day and for many DJs and enthusiasts of the same ilk it remains an important touchstone. It will be forever associated with the electroclash moment, but for anybody with eclectic tastes it goes way beyond that moment, tying the dots between Punk, Disco, Hip-Hop, Techno and Electro.

Gigolo came at a crucial time for club music and it not only found the perfect zeitgeist for its own ideologies, but went a long way in establishing that zeitgeist. It stood out amongst its peers for its unique and singular vision, driven by its sole owner and musical visionary DJ Hell (Helmut Josef Geier). It established a moment in music history we aren’t likely to witness again with that intensity. It wasn’t a specific sound – more a lack thereof – but an attitude that was at the heart of Gigolo and it all starts with the man behind the label. 

To understand Gigolo, you’ve got to take a trip through the history of one of the most enigmatic and individual DJs that has ever lived. A true and determined underground figure, DJ Hell’s history moves through club music history like Dante traversing the nine circles. Key figures and moments crop up in his own biography as if he’s recounting the story of our global scene, the faceless narrator of unflappable character. He’s never stealing the spotlight or craving the attention of his counterparts, but he’s always there, in the shadows working on the fringes like a true uncompromising underground hero. 

His career as a DJ starts with the advent of the nightclub, a concept still indistinguishable from the discotheque during the eighties. In Munich, or more accurately, a suburb outside Munich, a young DJ Hell is cutting his teeth, playing music from his local discotheque’s collection – DJs did that back then, when the music policy was still dictated by the sound of the place rather than the disc jockey. DJ Hell had shown a knack for picking the right records from the communal collection, consolidating it into a career as a DJ and then later a producer. 

Moving from the suburbs to the city DJ Hell became one of the first House DJs in Germany, parlaying his skills for mixing records into A&R for the Disko B label before becoming an artist and producer with his breakout single “My definition of House” on the then burgeoning R&S label. His work as A&R took him from Germany to New York, possibly sowing the seed for an eventual move to New York to be a resident at the infamous Limelight club alongside Jeff Mills.

This is where a large part of the story of International DeeJay Gigolos begins. In 1993 DJ Hell was a resident, sharing the booth alongside Mills in one of the most iconic eras and places for club music. It’s here where the story of the club kids of New York begins and ends with Michael Alig’s eventual descent into murder. Yes, DJ Hell was there for the beginning of that too.

It was DJ Hell’s close associations with Mills that planted the seed for Gigolos to exist. After hearing a couple of Disco “edits” from the wizard being turned at limelight, DJ Hell approached Mills with a proposal to release the music. Both DJs knew that the music wouldn’t suit any of Mills’ Techno labels, and he agreed to give the music to Hell to establish International Deejay Gigolos. This was a big deal. Jeff Mills hardly ever licences his music outside of his own labels and here is giving DJ Hell these tracks for free! 

“Shifty Disco” wasn’t the first catalogue number on Gigolos – no that honour goes to D.J. Naughty and David Carretta – but it was released in the same year the label sprang into existence and set the tone for what the label and this music would become. It turned it all on its head. Here’s the original Techno innovator, making Disco-inspired House, and what do you know… he’s very good at it. That raw impulsiveness that is Jeff Mills, is all over this record, but it’s channelled towards the fringes of Jeff Mills’ known universe, where vocal samples and strings sit buoyantly alongside syncopated hi-hats.

Shifty Disco and Gigolo came as a revelation in the late nineties. As we were marching into the millennium, Electronic club music became more and more codified. Lines began to be drawn in the sand, between House and Techno and Trance and its quickly-emerging subgenres where there had never been any distinctions before. Some factions started garnering superstardom on the basis of playing records to a dance floor, while others were happy toiling in the underground benefiting from the hype. It was a time of hyperinflation for club music’s equity stake in popular culture and DJs were playing to millions at the likes of Love Parade while producers like David Morales and Paul Johnson (original underground figures) got played on MTV. As it became trendy without much resistance from people that saw an easy buck, all sincerity went along with it and by the time the troubadours were playing saxophones alongside fedora-clad DJs playing “lounge House” nobody with any taste would be caught dead listening to a DJ, except maybe one – DJ Hell. 

DJ Hell and Gigolo were one of the few instuítutions that not only remained unique during this period, but also bridged a lot of gaps for people moving to and from electronic club music. As the owner, A&R and creative director for the label, DJ Hell’s punk-informed attitude to music and the business of music was one of the most authentic for a time of uber-commercialism for electronic music. There was no specific promotion, no hype, just an ideology and a look that resonated with an audience either coming to electronic music or moving away from the tawdry aspects of the music. 

As the label started to take shape and by the first compilation an aesthetic started to emerge based somewhere between the pop-sensitivities of Andy Warhol and the kitsch machismo of  the Arnold Schwarzenegger artwork for the label. (Later Arnold’s people would sue Gigolo for the use of his image, but that’s a whole other article). It was all carefully orchestrated by DJ Hell and even today a Gigolo record still jumps out at you from the shelves for its curious artwork featuring Amanda Lapore and Sid Vicious. 

Early releases from likes of the disco industrialist David Carretta, the eco-nihilist turned Hi-NRG punk Chris Korda (“save the planet, kill yourself”), House cadettes the Foremost Poets and Electro stalwart DMX Crew, not to mention the Hacker and Miss Kitten set a road map through electronic music that looked like a Jackson Pollock painting created by an AI. Even when Gigolo was releasing straight up House music, there were elements of something more going making unlikely connections between distant musical universes and it was quirky but above all idiosyncratic. There was an approach in breaking down barriers that permeated through it all, and although it was in the air with people moving away from what House and Techno became, Gigolo played a significant role in defining this period as Electroclash. 

If there is one track that defined this era and this spirit in music and offered something of a breakthrough, this would be “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation. Today that song has been immortalised in football stadiums the world over, but before it was that it set a watermark for what Electroclash would become. It’s instantly gratifying melody and fervent joviality, becoming an instant earworm for a whole generation of club-goers. It cemented the career of the artist and synth-wizard Florian Senfter, defining an era and a sound that would soon be immortalised through Gigolo. Right now, it might be as far removed from the original context as it was intended as a football stadium chant (or not actually considering DJ Hell’s own love for football), but even back then it was also probably the biggest crossover success for the label and the artist. Between the saccharine melody and the rocky nature of the synths that called to mind more Emmerson Lake and Palmer than it did Oakenfold, the record has clearly stood the test of time. It was and remains the definition of Electroclash and you can hear its influence on everything from Alter Ego to Boys Noize. 

Much like the whole ethos of International Deejay Gigolo, Electroclash was based on the absence of a particular sound rather than a specific genre. The prefix Electro is something of a misnomer, referring more to an epochal sound and character rather than the literal understanding of the genre Electro. It would fold in everything from Synth Pop to Disco to Techno with a focus on electronic sounds and an iconoclastic approach that tore down institutionalised barriers installed by “purists.” Electroclash held a middle finger up to the dogmas of electronic club music, establishing one of the most fertile and unassumingly progressive periods in electronic music. It came at just the right time at the end of the nineties when electronic club music was becoming more rigid and formulaic in the wake of some crossover success. 

DJ Hell saw all of this from his vantage point at a point where he himself had been established, and positioned International DJ Gigolo Records right at the centre of this incredible creative mælstrøm. There would be nothing expected or pastiche that came out of this period for Gigolo. Records like the electro-rock of Zombie Nation would live side by side with the rest of the catalogue, with the only common thread between these records being their raw and impulsive nature. There was an energy that sought to decimate the conformity gathering momentum in electronic music, offering a lifeline to a musical scene that was getting complacent.

The label  would never fall victim to this complacency and a record would never deign to cash in on the success from the last. The diversity of the label’s output was something like collage for someone with an attention deficit disorder. If for example “Kernkraft 400” was the record that broke the mould, it wouldn’t assume to take centre stage, and DJ Hell would pivot to something  completely different again and again. There was no blueprint or method, it was purely the impulses of a DJ with remarkably eclectic tastes and a laser-like focus, proven by the early success of a record like Zombie Nation’s and Dopplereffekts “Gesamtkunstwerk”. That last record had almost nothing in common with the first even though they were released around the same time, and today, much like “Kernkraft 400”, “Gesamtkunstwerk” stands as another classic record from that same era.

During a recent interview for Tiga’s podcast “Last Party on Earth”, Hell talks purposefully about this record as one of his greatest achievements as a label boss. From the artwork to the title, and of course the music, “Gesamtkunstwerk” is a masterpiece. Arriving, anonymously, via one of the legends of the Detroit scene, namely Gerald Donald (previously one half of Drexciya), it might seem like an obvious choice for a successful record, but at the time people were still just discovering the truly underground sounds of Drexciya and their other Detroit counterparts. Dopplereffekt was still unknown with some mystery around the main actors of the group, but you didn’t need to know the origin story to fall in love with the record’s dystopian grooves. 

Hell and Gigiolo brought Dopplereffekt to the fore with this record. It was probably the purist from of Electro that Electroclash would assume, demonstrating a mass appeal value for the Electro genre that we hadn’t experienced since Uncle Jams Army in the eighties. Electro had been a DIY indulgence for comic book nerds and synthesiser geeks, but even a stubborn rocker  hearing “Gesamtkunstwerk” for the first time, it was all s/he wanted to hear after. In 1999 when the LP was released, it stood as a linchpin for the whole Electroclash movement. The comical panic of Y2K, makes for a perfect backdrop in the group’s fantastical prose about sexual congress with mannequins and obstructing human fecundity, while machines drummed out rhythmic devices like a automatron motor city factory. 

There was a sense of absurdity at work even when the music was quite serious and it came to define the likes of the roster at Gigolo. Things like providing a platform for the aforementioned Chris Korda’s and his “church of euthanasia”; releasing Mount Sims’ “Hate Fuck” as a single for radio; and putting Amanda Lepore on the cover of records obviously provoked, but the intention was always with sense of fun, DJ Hell’s tongue always firmly cheek. A kind of Roy Lichtenstein for the new millennium, Hell and Gigolo took a slanted approach to pop-culture through a soundscape only JG Ballard could envision, and it worked. The records would be released into the world without any pressure from the label for the artists to do interviews or promote their work, and a whole generation flocked to them without much goading. There was something considered about the final product around a Gigolo release, which extended from the music to its packaging and it stood out on every record shelf.

It was an entire world contained, built around a cult-like family of freaks that Hell cultivated like Charles Manson without all the killing and with some actual musical talent. It’s possibly best represented in the funny, almost outlandish 2005 Gigolo documentary, Freak Show, where Hell takes the gang on the road, from Germany to the states, featuring a young Tiga, Miss Kittin, Traxx and a host of characters you couldn’t possibly write today. 

With so much music being released via the label one can’t simply dip a toe into the Gigolo catalogue during this period. There’d be tracks like Vitalic’s “Poney,” Tiga’s “Sunglasses at night” or Fischerspooner’s “Emerge” that would keep you engaged with the label though its popularity, but it would inevitably lead to records like Terenece Fixmer’s “Muscle Machine” or David Caretta’s “Dominion”. At the same time it could lead to a rabbithole to post-punk darlings like Tuxedomoon; resurrect forgotten gems like Shari Vari; or really turn everything on its head with a P. Diddy record. That’s not to mention DJ Hell’s own vital contributions throughout this period, including masterpieces like NY Muscle.

It’s in fact NY Muscle that stands as the fulcrum point for the electroclash era for me personally. With collaborators like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Traxx, and Suicide’s Alan Vega, this record was something of the barometer from which we gauge the Electroclash period. Rock motifs and tunnel-vision like Techno live side by side in this record from 2003, which also started to mark the height of the success of the label sandwiched between tracks like Sunglasses at night and Justice v. Simian’s “never be alone.” 

Gigolo would honour the legacy from which it arrived and in some chaotic kaleidoscope of sound it would reconstitute and re-invigorate what had become stale and formulaic. In what is only a laboured analogy Frank Sinatra was truly dead, but the rat-pack survived in the form of Micahel Alig’s club kids born in the parallel world the label and its founder created. It was the right label for the right time and as much as it brought a whole new generation (this writer included) back to electronic music. It remains a significant label even today, and today its back catalogue often warrants some double-takes, like “wow, they released that!

From Gigolo’s heyday, electronic music’s success quickly rose in the popular consciousness, perhaps even leaving Gigolo behind somewhere between the stark minimalism of Berlin’s endemic influence. Those barriers that Electroclash broke down were quickly reinforced and only strengthened in its resolve to institutionalise a music that was always thrived in the obscure and impulsive. But it’s still some of the world’s best producers and DJs working today that came to the fore during that time. DJs like Tiga, 2 many DJs, Boys Noize, Erol Alkan and Ivan Smagghe (many of which collaborated or were featured on Gigolo) rose to prominence during this period too, and it’s no surprise that they continue to be acknowledged as some of the best in the world. Whatever was ingrained during Electroclash (even if Ivan Smagghe hates to admit it) has established them as unique entities on our scene today. 

And much like those DJs, Gigolo stands as a watermark in electronic music history. Some twenty years on, many of those records (and I have a fair few of them) stood the test of time. They haven’t been in the zeitgeist for some time but every now and then you’ll hear a DJ play a track and it immediately stands out amongst whatever else is being played, much like it did when it was in its prime. There are some similarities we can draw with the current era and the original Electroclash scene. Electronic music has reached a state of popularity it has never witnessed before, and at the same time has been diluted into bland tropes facilitated by accessibility and the economics. There are a lot of similarities that can be drawn to that time and now, and is setting a good precedent to set the scene for a new iconoclastic genre to exist, much like it did when Gigolo was there to establish it. Frank Sinatra is well and truly dead!

Schneider’s House with Anja Schneider

Anja Schneider has been a broadcast- and club DJ for 25 years. She cut her teeth in the world of DJing back in the nineties when the culture was still underground, precocious and even a little menacing. By the early 2000’s she was established, moving from DJing to label owner and eventually production as one of the founders of Mobilee. That label remains a touchstone for a very specific time in club music history as Techno and House went deeper and crossed over into popular culture. At the height of its popularity, Anja left Mobilee and almost immediately she established her own imprint Sous. Anja Schneider’s presence has been a fixture in the culture, especially through her work as a radio host and an electronic music facilitator for airwaves. 

Radio is something that she has always embraced, but even for all its positives it could also feel like a quagmire for a progressive club DJ like Anja, whose strong connection to the underground often left her stymied with her day job. Recently that has changed. 

“Now I’m radio free,” says Anja Schneider over a telephone call with some reserved excitement in her vocal chords. After twenty five years in broadcasting Anja Schneider has called it quits for radio. “To make a long story short… I had enough,” the German DJ and producer begins. It started when her programme at radio Eins ended abruptly when they pivoted to an all-rock programme during the pandemic. “Imagine, in Berlin!”, she mocks incredulously. She fielded a lot of offers from other stations and took on the monumental task of a daily drive time show at classic radio with a programme called Beats, which was all about “independent deep house.” She did a show for a year, “and then I couldn’t do it anymore,” she says, sounding exasperated. “It was too much and I couldn’t hear any new music.”

There had always been a sense of “frustration” for Anja working in “these big companies”  where it seemed “you’re always fighting” to get that “new shit” on the air. After 25 years she was “tired” and compounded by the situation, in general, Anja has taken a well-deserved break from the airwaves. It’s given her the opportunity “to breathe a little” and refocus her energies on the club dance floor. “Everybody from outside just saw me as a radio producer,” reflects Anja, and today she is looking to shed a little of that perception of her skills as a DJ.

Anja Schneider’s associations with radio run deep, especially in Germany. Since the early nineties she has been at the forefront of German broadcasters bringing electronic club music to the masses. 

It was all predicated by an interest for electronic music that started in her hometown of Cologne, where she first heard the sounds of Chicago and Detroit spilling out from a local record store. “I worked in an advertising company, and underneath there was this little Chicago record shop,” remembers Anja. There were all “these cool guys hanging” out in front of the shop, and her curiosity piqued, she went on to discover what electronic club music was all about. They turned her on to the likes of Underground Resistance while DJs like “Hans Nieswandt from Whirlpool production” exposed her to some of her first DJ mixes. She went deeper with fanzines and started buying the music, before she eventually made her way to Berlin and found a refuge on the dance floor at Tresor.

There she was “blown away” when she saw “Jeff Mills for the first time” and alongside influences like the “charismatic” Sven Väth, a nascent career as a DJ awaited, but it would have to wait a little longer. 

Anja’s focus had always been as somebody that “worked behind the scenes.” Her work in advertising which led to broadcasting kept her rooted in the background as a kind wizard of oz for club music, when it was still in its infancy. Instead of keeping it on the dance floor, Anja  turned her efforts to bringing what she heard in clubs on the weekend to the bigger audience of the radio. “I always wanted to make it (electronic music) more popular,” she explains. She started off as something “like a consultant” before moving on to become a “programme manager,” a position she enjoyed at Fritz radio for some time before her boss convinced her to take to the microphone as a DJ. 

After an initial reticence, it turned out to be the “best decision of my life.” She became “very successful” as a radio DJ and shortly after DJ requests started flooding in. A thought struck her; “if I can play for 80 000 people on the radio of course I can play in the club. This was the most stupid thought!” she now considers with a snicker. “I failed the first gigs and I had to learn to mix properly.” That didn’t take long. Moving over to a set of decks, after the simplistic push-button selections of radio programming, Anja Schneider’s reputation became two-fold. Already known for her cutting edge selections as a radio DJ, she became a double threat as a DJ that had the chops to back it up in the club too. 

Soon an “offer to start a label” followed. That label turned out to be Mobillee, a club music label that became home to artists like Sebo K, Pan Pot and more recently Gheist, and has been a significant fixture on club music since its inception, with Anja playing a large part in its success…

Anja trails off while recounting these early years. It’s always struck me and especially now speaking to her, that Anja Schneider lives in the present with an eye on the future. She’s never been one to reflect too heavily on the past in other interviews and talking to her she covers much of her career, with “…and the rest is history”. It’s reflected in what she does as a label owner with most of her efforts are focussed on bringing new artists and music to the fore. Recently she has established Clubroom, a mix series,”which is syndicated to several radio stations;” worked with up and coming artist, Joplyn for an amazon music exclusive; and released a compilation, featuring many new artists via her own Sous music label. 

The fairly young imprint has been around since 2017 with the debut LP coming from Anja Schneider herself. The record, called SoMe, seemed like a significant moment for the artist, producer and DJ, and much like the position she finds herself in today, after 25 years of being a radio DJ, it seemed like a watershed moment for her career. It established a new label, marked her departure from Mobilee and hinted to a more eclectic approach in her sound, as something she likes to refer to as “Schneider House.” Anja is not so sure however what really inspired this watershed moment or any of the others. “I’ve never been a person to make plans. It’s always been chaotic and organic” and creation of Sous records and the LP SoMe, could simply be an extension of that. 

Her decision to leave Mobilee, the label she helped create and cultivate in to its position today, “was not an easy step” for Anja.”It was quite difficult for me when I quit,” admits Anja and the fallout from that was a huge risk on her part too, but she was adamant on this new recourse. “With Mobilee, it was established, there was a lot of business,” says Anja. It was “too much pressure” to deliver in the end. She wanted a record she could put out without considering the practical commitments that go with being a label boss, things like paychecks and bills. “I wanted to do it whenever I wanted to and how I wanted to do it,” and that’s how Sous came to be. She was determined and it didn’t take her much time to establish herself again in the position she is now, with a new successful label and a very busy musical output. 

SoMe laid the foundation for her to explore new avenues in the larger network of her Schneider House sound. It extends to the label where “everything is possible” which reflects again in her DJ sets too. It’s a sound she’s established over the course of her career and much like everything else it’s a direct result of this chaotic and organic process to everything she touches.

It’s hard to believe today that Anja Schneider never wanted to be a producer. ”Everybody was asking why don’t you deliver a track?”; but she was quite aware of her own limitations. “I can’t do it,” she used to tell them until her friend Sebo K convinced her otherwise. She teamed up with that producer first and the result was a record called Tonite. All those latent ingredients are there that make this an Anja Schneider track. Melodic and immersive, yet thundering, it is a dance floor track that looks to the deeper end of the spectrum. Bubbling basslines and syncopated percussion keep it rooted on the groove while playful elements flutter through the arrangements.

Ever since her first release, she has always worked with a production partner and she picks no bones about the fact. “I love to work with different people,” exclaims Anja. “I like the interactions and the fights that you have with people,” she says with a laugh. 

Her latest production partner is her husband and renowned producer, Toni Planet. There haven’t been any fights yet according to Anja who has found the whole experience to be “super easy and fun” so far. In her relationships with any producer, it “has to click on a human side,” and working with her husband certainly has that covered. “On the other hand it’s really important to have something unique or authentic.” Anja “can hear quite soon, if somebody is trying to be trendy,” and music for her has always been about having an “authentic” experience. 

This is one of the biggest faux pas Anja has witnessed in her extensive career, as a DJ,  producer and label owner. “If you have to adapt, you are losing that authentic part of you.” She considers “it would be completely stupid” to have to adapt at all to what’s going on around her, especially now with a trend for harder and faster music prevailing. In what she claims is now her “fifth wave” of a new trend, she certainly doesn’t feel the need to compromise the authenticity of Schneider’s House for this new immediacy in club music. 

Anja’s music today actually  lives on the opposite end of the spectrum of the trend, yet she is still an in-demand DJ, which says much about her own authenticity as a producer and DJ. Her latest release Turning my Head, is a deep thriller operating on the lower ends of the BPM wars. A moody track that simmers between tension and resolve, it maintains that sound of Schneider’s House for lack of any other description. 

“It’s always deep,” she says of this sound. “I’m not a person with big breaks and drama”  and in her music you’ll find something that is tempered and introspective with a groove that undulates throughout. “This groove can also be a little breaky,” suggests Anja with tracks like WMF from SoMe as an example, but it’s always there and follows the artist from the studio to any DJ booth she commands. 

Much like her music, “everything is possible” when it comes to an Anja Schneider set and yet there is something specific to her sets that can live happily under the roof of Schneider`s House. Her only regret recently has been that due to the pandemic, “the last EPs were really slow and breaky” and like DJing she is looking forward to get back into the club “and make music for the dance floor again.’’ 

It’s hard to believe that it would take that long for Anja Schneider to achieve her goal. With the world back on its feet, her presence on the dance floor has been noted. Her touring schedule is back to where it was during her time at Mobilee and with more releases primed from her and her label, including a “big breaks” remix from Dense Pika, Anja Schneider is riding a new wave of success already. With the commitments of broadcasting now firmly behind her, she has retrained her efforts and set her laser-like focus back on the club dance floor. She’s setting the scene for a new generation of producers and DJs through her label and efforts like clubroom in that same altruistic approach  that has followed her through her entire career; to bring that “new shit” to the people. 

Palace of Pleasure is looking for their Spellemann

If you have Palace of Pleasure’s Spellemann prize, bring it to Jaeger and we’ll give you and a friend free entry to the concert

Palace of Pleasure have a history of not holding on to their Spellemann prize. The first one they raffled out to a lucky fan, and the second one they repurposed as a door handle to Jaeger’s predecessor, Garage. It was the nineties! It was time of blasé excess and when not giving a fuck was a cool, but that was then and this is now.

Unfortunately with the end of Garage, the door handle disappeared and neither we nor Palace of Pleasure have had eyes on the much-coveted prize. Palace of Pleasure would really like to be reunited with their much-coveted prize, and we at Jaeger would really like to see what’s behind that door. We’ve not been able to open it since we took over from Garage, and the pot for “what’s behind the mystery door” is no joke.

If you return the Spellemann, we’ll ask no questions and we’ll even go as far as to reward you wand a friend with some tickets to the live show. (Please contact editor@jaegeroslo.no)

Tickets for the event are available via ticketco. 

 

Luke Solomon: The unsung hero of House music on his own terms

It takes some kind of legacy to be called one of the unsung heroes of House music, especially when the accolade is bestowed by one of the best in the business, Andrew Weatherall. Luke Solomon is that unsung hero and has forgotten more about dance music than any of us can ever begin to know. He’s been a monolith in the scene since the nineties, but working in the background, behind the scenes, few people have acknowledged his presence like Andrew Weatherall, but that is about to change. 

We all first felt Luke Solomon’s presence on the scene as the resident of Space @ Bar Rumba alongside the legendary Kenny Hawkes. From there he established the Classic record label (Classic Music Company today) with Derrick Carter and set about defining the sound of House music in the mid and late nineties in Europe. A facilitator in the truest sense of the word, Space lives on infamy today as one of the infallible House concepts in the history of club music, while Classic has been responsible for some of the most legendary House records ever to be sealed in wax, many of them Luke’s own. 

As an artist he’s been active for the better part of his career, most notably as one half of Freaks together with Justin Harris, with whom he enjoyed (or rather not) also his first crossover success with the Creeps. Over the years, he’s carved out a career as a producer with a midas touch and it’s extended from his work with Harris and his solo work to a place where today he has hundreds of production credits on records for Honey Dijon, Horse Meat Disco and Beyoncé.

Yes, that Beyoncé. Together with his writing partners, Chris Penny and Honey Dijon, Luke Solomon penned the music for “Cosy” and “Alien Superstar” from her last album Renaissance and with a couple of Grammys pending, the fates have smiled on Luke as he steps into what many might say is his twilight years of a musical career, even though hes far from done.  

It’s not been without its struggles, losing friends like Kenny Hawkes and peers like Andrew Weatherall, and with all the other misfortunes and strifes that follow a DJ, it has only strengthened his resolve and he has taken it all into his stride. “I’ve been through a lot,” he says via a telephone call but it’s also been worth it on some level. “I get a lot of inspiration from the darkness and the parts of my life that I stumble and I feel that helps me creatively and that’s the greatest therapy.” 

Today he’s “writing with people like Seven Davis Jr.” and with “more queries coming from the pop world to make music” from his work with Beyoncé,  he’s found a new urge that has taken him back to that youthful spirit of the nineties and coming through as a new DJ and producer. “For instance, I was just in New York now working with Honey and loads of different writers, it was so much fun. I felt like a kid then. Nothing mattered and we could do what we wanted and any idea was a good idea.” 

It’s this work that he’s doing behind the scenes outside of the spotlight that in many ways defined Luke Solomon as one of the unsung heroes of House music in Andrew Weatherall’s eyes. Between his production work and his A&R activities, he’s laid the groundwork from which artists like Derrick Carter, Honey Dijon, Horse Meat Disco, Camelphat and many many more have built very successful careers. Today he continues to do the A&R for Defected, with many industry experts claiming his efforts have played a pivotal role in that company’s latest successes. 

And throughout it all he still DJs and continues to tour the world on the skills he first laid down at Space @ Bar Rumba. It’s at the UK club he first met Olle Abstract and with his appearance at LYD pending it’s here where our conversation begins. 

Luke SolomonWhat do you remember of the nights at Space @ Bar Rumba?

Absolutely nothing… (laughs)

So it must have been a really good night then?

Yeah, I’ve been having to think about this alot at the moment, because me and a couple of people from the club have done a compilation, which is dedicated to Kenny Hawkes. I’ve been thinking about the different nights and the different DJs. I think we captured a moment in time. The stars aligned for what was this really special place. 

If I’m not mistaken Classic was established around the same time. 

Actually, Girls FM happened, which was the Pirate station I played at with Kenny. The club night started as a result of the radio station and our relationship, and Classic sort of happened around the same time. It’s a bit of a blur. 

Does that mean the music policy at Space kind of reflected the sound of the label?

It was Deep House, the original version of Deep House coming out of Chicago and New York and led by labels like Prescription and Cajual. It grew and became more eclectic. We would play Disco and the sound of Brit House, and then the Nu Disco sound happened. 

What were people like that came out to the event, because it would take a huge commitment to come out every week, right?

It was chaos. A  lot of industry people would come because it was the middle of the week. That was always fun and hedonistic and then you had what we called the Deep House 150; which was about a core of 150 people that were dedicated Deep House fans that would come out every week. If it was a big night, and with a guest DJ like Andrew Weatherall, Harvey or Derrick Carter it would be a roadblock. 

You mention Derrick Carter there, the co-founder of Classic. Would you often have Classic artists on the lineup?

Yes, and a lot of people that used to play for us, ended up becoming Classic artists. It was a mixture. People like Gemini and Ron Trent were regulars. It was interesting, because when we first started, we had Ron Trent and Chez Damier and we had like 50 people. And then fast forward 12 months and we had 300 people. I think we broke that sound in London before anywhere else was playing this kind of music. 

What led to the night coming to an end?

Kenny was in charge of running it and I was the resident DJ. He realised that what was happening in Soho and in the west end was that music was shifting more towards the east end. We thought it would be better to end it while it was on a high, rather than feed it every week. We were both playing every weekend, the labels were firing on all cylinders and Freaks was just happening for me. So, there were lots going on so it was a good time to pull the plug.

Did it cement anything in terms of you and DJing going forward at that point in your career?

Yeah. I still stand by the fact that it taught me how to be a warm-up DJ and it’s still the thing that I enjoy more than anything else. Starting a club from the beginning when there is nobody in the room and filling the dance floor, I learnt all that playing from Bar Rumba. It was the time when you could break new records and keep things mellow. That was valuable for me and I carry that with me.

Do you still get opportunities to warm up?

All the time, that’s my favourite time to play. Especially if I play before Honey Dijon or Derrick. Recently I played in New York and I opened the club elsewhere in the 2nd room, and I played all night, and I love that. It’s on your terms. It’s quite tricky when you’re coming in after a DJ and you’re the guest; a lot of the time DJs don’t warm up for guests anymore. 

Let’s backtrack a bit. We know a bit about your history and how you came to electronic music through cassettes, then records and raves. What were those first records and what do you remember from the raves?

The eighties are a little foggy (laughs). In my hometown, on Monday nights, we had DJs from London that would play and educate us. We learnt about records like early Frankie Knuckles’ “baby wants to ride.”  And then Acid House, like Joey Beltram’s Energy Flash. We were exposed, early on to those records alongside Soul II Soul and rare groove records. I was fortunate enough to hear a lot of different DJs, maybe not well-known, but really good DJs play a mixture of proto-house music. I remember hearing stuff like “love can’t turn around” and “promised land” before it went into the charts. They were anthems to us long before they became crossover records. 

There’s been this mythic view of that time and the nineties, especially with this new generation coming through. As somebody that’s lived through that time and with the level of your success, what was your experience of that time looking back?

I think we realised we were living through a Golden age. It was very different being an 18 year old in 1988, living through the summer of love and going through outdoor raves. And then moving to London being exposed to club culture and seeing that part of things. You just knew that if you went record shopping, you’d find some incredible records. Being in amongst it, we were quite spoiled, especially looking back at it now. It’s interesting, you were in something, but when you were in it, you didn’t realise it quite so much. 

What do you think of this nostalgic view of that era today, because for me it feels a lot of it has become pastiche?

I agree with you. I think technology is to blame for a lot of that stuff. It’s so easy to make those records now, but making them with the spirit of the originals is a very different  thing. I think it almost regresses, and nostalgia has a very bad effect on dance music. It’s important to be progressive. 

I guess when you started out, you and your peers would be working on rudimentary equipment, and it was about experimenting. 

I think that’s why modular (synthesisers) have their place in the world, but I think that has almost gone too extreme now. I feel that stripped down chaos (from the nineties) is missing. It was still that kind of raw, black funk that was born from Motown, Disco and Prince and then going into Acid House. The laziness  of making music is a strange thing for me, especially when there are so many great musicians around. I do think that is changing. I hear dance music, especially coming out of America that’s pushing the boundaries again. 

I feel artists like Byron the Aquarius and Galcher Lustwerk are exciting in that regard.

Yes, exactly.

But, you’re also a big part of that I feel, with the stuff you’re doing with Honey Dijon and where that has taken you.

I feel like I’m part of something, but I like to surround myself with young, inspiring people. To get that energy from the new generation and be part of that new movement. 

Luke SolomonHow did you and Honey start working together?

We’ve known each other for a long time, since the mid-nineties. We’ve been friends for that long and we kind of grew up together. I think there was a point where she started making more music outside of DJing and we put a couple of things out on Classic, and then we started working together and that led to her album and Beyoncé. It happened organically. We’ve got very similar tastes. Alongside Chris Penny (Luke’s writing partner), it’s like being in a band. 

While we’re on the subject of Beyoncé, how did that happen?

Her creative director is a big fan of Honey’s and we got a mysterious email during lockdown. They told us that she was working on a new album, and they wanted to take black music and dance music back to its roots, and she wanted team Honey Djon to be involved. It grew from that to having two songs on the album. It was a very bizarre and amazing process which ended up in two grammy nominations. (laughs) I laugh every time I think about it. 

What is it like working in that tier of the music industry, coming from House music, which has always been more DIY?

You know the greatest thing about it was that it has been completely on our terms. To imagine the music we make anyway with Beyoncé singing on it, it’s like a dream. We just made the music we make. We may have to move the tempos, or be more creative with the arrangements. It was still based on very cunty records, records from the ballrooms in New York, music that me, Honey and Chris had grown up with. 

We are just applying all our knowledge and all our history and giving it to someone who would understand it. What you hear, beats-wise and samples, that’s what we did. They didn’t change a thing. The only thing we had to do was slow down “Cosy,” that’s when you realise you’re making something for the pop world. 

It’s not your first flirtation with success and being at the top of the music industry. You were there before with The Creeps as one half of Freaks. I read an interview where you said that with a song like Creeps, the money didn’t justify the sacrifices you had to make.  Was there something that has since changed your mind and put you on this path to working with more pop artists?

The Creeps wasn’t really on our own terms. That version of Creeps that came out, came from a remix we never approved. I feel like we ended up making a record that I didn’t get behind 100%. We were young and suddenly money is appearing and people are putting pressure on you to make another record. Lack of experience puts you in a very strange headspace, and I really battled with it. 

Now that I’m older and I’ve learnt from that experience, I know exactly how to do it without making the same mistakes. This is on my terms. We’re doing it without any compromise. In terms of the financial aspects; I’ve been through the loss of a record company, where I’ve had huge debt.  I’ve been in a position where I wasn’t getting any DJ work. I had to get a job and work for Defected. I’ve had to go through so many different versions just to stay in dance music. Now I’m at a point where I’m really comfortable with that. 

You certainly took it in the stride and I think your hundreds of production credits on other artists’ records stand as testament to that. Were there ever any regrets about directions you’ve taken working with other artists?

I’ve never been good at playing the game. I know what to do and how to do it. Throughout all of this, I don’t think there’s a moment in my creative career where I have had any regrets. Even looking back at the Creeps, I don’t think I could’ve made the Beyoncé record without going through that experience. Great music is great music, and I’m not drawn by the spotlight anymore, I just want to make great music. 

And do you approach the music differently when you make music for somebody else than working on a Luke Solomon track?

100%. When I make a record with Honey, I have to be inside her head. It needs to sound like her, it needs her spirit. That comes from intimacy. I like to have intimacy with music that I care about. You have to become somebody else to be those people. When it comes to me, I’m just in my head. 

When it comes to your own music, there’s still a prolific output. Between all your other production projects, your daily A&R activities and Defected and DJing, where do you find the time for all of this; what’s essential to that work ethic?

I’ve always been able to manage my time. If I make a record a week, and I’ve done that for the last 25 years, then I feel like I’ve accomplished what I need to do. Whether it’s a remix, or working on a Honey record, or producing and writing for someone else, as long as I do that I’m good. 

Outside of that, the A&R is just; every Thursday and Friday I just sit and go through music. I listen, I buy records, I travel to buy records, that’s A&R. It’s about attaching yourself to things that you see coming and artists that you might see developing. DJing then feeds from that. I don’t think it’s that difficult to do a lot of things in 24 hours if you are just dedicated and obsessed with it. The only thing I’ve had to change was my day to day at Defected. I’ve got so much production work, so I’m just doing A&R. I’m not the guy that’s on the ground everyday like I was. 

I’ve had to kind of move things around now, because we are in a position where there alot of new opportunities. Obviously off the back of the grammys there are doors opening. Things are shifting and changing, but I’m still the same person doing the same thing, it’s just in a different world I guess. 

Since we’re the subject of Defected. I’ve heard people in the industry acknowledging your role at the label and how you’ve changed things around there. Is there something specific you’ve done there that has contributed to this perception?

(laughs). It’s interesting. Somebody else said that to me, and it’s a lovely thing to hear, but I never really thought about it. My relationship with Simon Dunmore (Defected founder) over the years has always been that I’ve been the yang to his ying. I offered an alternative perspective to dance music, which I think allowed Defected to reach or attach itself to other places or people. 

That kind of just happened. I still have an ear. When Camelphat’s Cola came through the door, I could hear it was a big record immediately, the same with the Oliver Dollar’s Pushing on. I knew they were big records, so I could stand there quite confidently saying, sign these records. It took a long time for people to really acknowledge my place in the industry, and it’s only happened in the last two years.  

Andrew Weatherall once labelled me the unsung hero of House music. I loved him and cursed him for that. I never wanted to be the unsung hero, I wanted people to acknowledge that. Getting that recognition now feels good. 

Working in the background like that as the person that makes these moves that make waves on an international scene, what do you personally get out of that?

(Laughs) That’s a really good question. I spent a lot of time not putting myself first, and doing a lot of things for the culture. Recently it reached a point where I decided that I have to think about myself a little bit more. This next part of my career is where I have had opportunities that I’ve never had before and I thought I would never have. The possibility of winning a grammy and these doors opening that I’ve never had before. I feel like I’m getting reimbursed. 

You’ve seen your fair share of people come up alongside that managed to break into that upper echelon of the underground scene. People like Derrick Carter and more recently Honey Dijon. Has there ever been any frustration on your side?

I’ve watched so many people push past me, and I don’t think I was ever ready. I don’t think I was a good enough DJ or producer. I think I was still learning and I’ve now reached a point – even though it’s this late in my fucking life (laughs) – and I feel like I have an equal standing with those people now. 

I’m not big on resentment and regret, I’ve always been an optimist. If I’ve ever seen on of my peers be in a position where I felt that could have been me, I always thought, that is going to be me someday. I’ve always been an “I’ll show you person.” 

There were so many times I could have walked away. Besides that, losing dear friends, and actually ironically it’s some of that grief that I suffered that’s kept going. If Kenny hadn’t died, life would have been very different for me now. He’s the reason that I got sober; he’s the reason I took my job more seriously; he’s the reason I do what I do. I feel very fortunate.

So you’re able to compartmentalise all that industry stuff from the personal stuff and from the music that you make?

Yeah, now I am. Because I’m comfortable in my own space. I don’t think I have to make a big record, because it’s going to help my DJ career. I don’t have any interest in that at all. You know, I’ve been asked to do a House master’s compilation for Defected, and the first thing that came to my head was; “are you sure?” And then we went through the list of other DJs and artists that have done it,  and I was like; “actually I do get to stand by my peers.”

 

Everything starts with a beat: An interview with Dusky

There’s a sound inextricably connected with London on Dusky’s latest LP, Pressure. From the tangible Garage-influences to the atmospheres, heavily imbued with the weight of a post-dubstep experimentalism, the whole album echoes with the sounds of the English capital and the production duo’s heritage.  

“We both grew up in different parts of North London” explains Alfie Granger-Howell while Nick Harriman carries in a cup of tea in the background of a video call. The pair have been making music together for the better part of a decade with 4 LPs, a few dozen EPs and a record label (17 steps) bearing the fruits of the labour as Dusky. 

Coming to the fore during London’s explosive post-Dubstep era, Dusky established a sound in the fusion between House and Dubstep, bringing the heavy drones of the UKs bass traditions to the slower tempos of House. They broke through with tracks like Flo Jam, and as their contemporaries started solidifying their sounds around traditional genres like Techno and House, Dusky remained fluid in their approach and their style, based on a tradition of Djing that sees them channel a combined record collection through their work.

In different epochs, they’ve focussed their sound on different elements in their own music education only to land on where it all began for them as teenagers with the sounds of Garage. In the recent revival and new appreciation for these sounds, Pressure finds Dusky in yet another phase of their sound together, while retaining that thread with a track like Flo Jam, which was also re-issued this year on their own 17 steps label.

As a record, Pressure picks no bones about its designs on the dance floor, launching into a rhythm and bass combination that anchors the entire record in the club experience. Those familiar disembodied ‘90s R&B vocals that’s centrals to Dusky’s sound drift in and out of tracks, while two-step beats and those hollowed out bass sounds bring an eager Funk to the record. The record shows their evolution and growth as artists continue to hit a nerve, while that virtual melting pot of sounds that makes London such a unique musical entity on the world map, continues to feed their work. 

As Alfie and Nick sit down with a fresh cuppa, we get stuck into a conversation about how the city has influenced their work and how they have channelled various aspects of a UK sound through their work and DJing. We jump straight in with Pressure. 

With those Garage sounds and two-step beats, this record sounds like London. Is that something you were trying to achieve?

Nick: We had a few Garage-inspired ideas, because there a lot of new Garage we were enjoying and playing out in our DJ sets. It snowballed, and before we knew it we had a load of Garage-influenced material.  

Alfie: There was one track from the previous album that started it, called “Eros”. We really enjoyed making that and it came together quite quickly. It just kind of feels like the right time (for this music). There’s also a lot of reference to that era. It felt like the right time to hark back to that era. 

I think it would be safe to assume it’s quite different from your last two LPs Joy and Outer. Was this an outlier record for you or just a natural evolution in your sound?

Nick: It’s definitely natural. It makes sense (in the context) of our influences growing up. We used to listen to a lot of Garage; it was everywhere on the radio during our teenage years. In the narrative of all of our albums, it’s probably a bit of an outlier. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to switch stuff up and be a little different.

Another thing that I also noticed that is a little different is that it’s also more immediate. There’s no ambient preamble, it just kicks off with a … kick and goes straight into those dance floor tempos. Was that conscious?

Alfie: I think that is something that is very different to our other albums. The other albums were compiled as a listening experience, whereas Pressure is a lot more club focused. In a sense it is wanting to reference classic Garage tracks and our record collection. Everything starts with a beat and it’s a DJ friendly way of starting tracks. It just felt right for this stuff, because there’s this established thing out of Garage and classic House.

Garage is having a bit of a revival right now. It seems that you are pretty sensitive to what’s going on around you. Or is that just a happy coincidence? 

Alfie: No, it’s definitely influenced by what’s going on. Even going back to when we were telling you about when we started making music, both of us were DJs by then. Obviously we were not doing gigs when we were teenagers, but we were buying records. It’s always been a passion of ours, following what else is going on and seeing how scenes grow and evolve.  When we make something to a certain degree, whatever we feel like will be a blank slate and then the other part of it is referencing what else is going on in the zeitgeist or whatever. 

Nick: You need to be aware of what’s going on, but not try and chase what’s happening. Otherwise you’ll just be trying to catch up. You just need to take influences from what you were enjoying from music. You just need to take that into the music you are making, and inevitably it will be different from what other people have made. As an artist you’ll be bringing your unique take on those influences, whether from the past or present. That’s worked well for us over the years. 

DuskyYou mentioned, Garage was big when you were teenagers. Is that around the same time you started to make music?

Nick: Pretty much.

Alfie: I started making very rudimentary things, when I was 13/14 and that was the kind of peak era, end of the nineties. Garage was everywhere in London. The other big influence around that time was Drum n Bass and the very end of the Jungle era. Both of those things always stuck with us because they were such formative years.

So you were teenagers when you started making music individually, but how did you first meet, and what encouraged you to start working on music together?

Alfie: We met when we were 16. We both studied music in different places doing different things. We had this project before Dusky (Solarity), that we released a few EPs on via AnjunaDeep. 

Actually the first LP as Dusky, originally it was going to be an album under Solarity. It was only halfway through that we realised it drifted quite a lot from the Solarity sound. The label pointed out it was quite different, and you need a new alias.  

That would be around the post-dubstep era. Coming up in that scene, was there anything that particularly facilitated your music and your career?

Alfie: I think we were very lucky in that era that we started Dusky, it was a very interesting time. It was fertile ground, because there were a lot of people coming from these different scenes, which were merging. Dubstep got very noisy, and that put some people off. For whatever reason that “Deep House” sound seemed to attract different people from different scenes. 

Nick: I think what helped push us in that hybrid scene was Loefah. He supported our music on the Swamp show (rinse FM) and at that time that was the shit everybody was into. Even though we weren’t doing anything specific with post-Dubstep, that was the connection with that world and it opened up a lot more gigs for us. 

I think what facilitated a lot of  the creativity in that era was the openness to experimenting.

Nick: For sure. There was a lot of variety, and that’s what I was saying about that time being very (reminiscent) of what the younger people are doing now. 

It also seemed that there was a real platform for new artists to emerge. 

Nick: There weren’t any gatekeepers. You didn’t have to have the approval of anyone to be a success. There were less barriers

Alfie: It was a level playing field.  

The other record that piqued my interest this year was Flo Jam which you re-issued via 17 steps. Flo Jam wasn’t your first release, but certainly a breakthrough record. Would you agree?

Nick: Yeah for sure. A lot of DJs playing across the board played it. We just re-released it because we got the rights back from the label. 

Why reissue it now?

Nick: It was originally on Dogmatik for 10 years…

Alfie: Well they are no-more. It just came down from Spotify one day, and that’s how we realised the rights had come back to us. People were like; “where’s flo jam” and we thought; “we should re-release it.“

Listening to that record today and then Pressure, there is certainly a leap in terms of sound. Is there anything significant change between those two records for you?

Alfie: It’s quite hard to tell. It’s interesting going back analysing our music like that. Often we don’t try to think about it too much when we are writing it. I think they are quite different, but they do have some common influences. 

Nick: There’s definitely a common influence in the sense that Flo Jam was very much influenced by Garage, but at a much slower tempo. Everything was slowing down. Dubstep was quite fast and then House was just coming a bit slower. That nineties R&B vocal is the thread that ties in the stuff with pressure and some of our earlier tunes.

And what’s stayed consistent in terms of the creative process throughout it all in your music?

Nick: Our setup hasn’t changed much, it’s remained in the box. We are actually still using the same speakers.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Alfie: Yeah, we tried some other ones and then went back. There are some things that keep track of the Dusky sound just in the way things are mixed and layered and the way we sample. I think most of it’s this kind of automatic thing that there’s this consistent sound. Broadly there’s this continuum. 

You’ve remained consistent as a duo too. Whereas some groups may go off into different directions, you’ve stayed together. What is the key behind that?

Nick: I guess it’s because we started making music together when we were quite (young). It’s always worked well, and it’s continued to keep developing.  It’s still enjoyable.  

Alfie:  And we’ve got complimentary skills. I was most interested in composition, whereas Nick was more focussed on the production side of it. That made it a good marriage. The other thing is that we have very similar tastes, but not exactly the same. If it was exactly the same it would be quite boring. 

There’s an idea that working in a duo that the music can go in a direction that you never thought it would, working as a solo artist.  Do you feel that’s true for you and your music or are there more distinct roles?

Nick: It’s completely mixed. It’s the same as when we’re DJing as well. If one of us is playing something the other one didn’t expect, then it just sparks new ideas. 

And while we’re on the subject of Djing; you mentioned earlier that you’re quite aware of what’s happening around when you’re making music. Is that the same for Djing?

Nick: For sure, because we need to be looking for new music all the time, right. To keep our sets fresh. 

The last few sets I’ve heard from you, were leaning to the sounds of House with some connection to the sound of your Joy and Outer records. Will it be leaning more towards a UK sound off the back of Pressure. 

Alfie: Definitely. There’s a lot of really cool straight-up garage or Garage-influenced stuff going on. There’s a nice little crew of people doing that stuff. Labels like time are now which are part of Shall not Fade and Instinct.

So it’s mainly new artists making that style of music, not so much the original artists?

Alfie: Mostly, we still play some old Garage records. 

Nick: Garage is quite an old sound now, so you want to play some of the old records to educate people that didn’t get to enjoy them the first time around, but equally, you don’t want to just turn the whole thing nostalgic. There’s loads of new stuff going round, which is pretty good. It’s about finding that balance between the old and the new and keeping it interesting. 

While Garage is big in London, it’s not always recognised in other parts of the world. In your travels as DJ’s have found it is easy to translate those UK sounds, or do you find yourselves having to adapt?

Nick: You have to adapt for sure. In Germany, for example, they are not as keen on stuff that’s not as straight up four to the floor. And in America they are quite open, but if you play something that is Disco influenced, sometimes they really hate it. 

Alfie: It’s different in the States, since when we first started (playing there), they didn’t want anything too experimental, whereas now it’s been very open crowds. We’re playing Garage, which is very specific UK stuff, and the kind of stuff that would maybe not have worked that well before, but it seemed to go down really well on the last tour there. Each club or festival is different. 

I’ll find my place: An interview with Move D

We talked to Move D about his prolific career as a DJ, producer and record label owner through various stages of electronic music. In an extensive interview we cover highlight from the early nineties through his revival and his latest Pandemix Live Jams series ahead of his appearance at Skranglejul.

David Moufang (Move D) hadn’t owned a pair of turntables at any given period of his career until the pandemic. The 56 year old DJ, producer and record label owner has avoided the traditional DJ setup at home, but like so many other things that changed with the pandemic. With the prospect of long periods of isolation at home, he thought “I’ll get a pair of Technics.” David’s intention turned to streaming some mixes via social media channels during the down time, but he soon started “running into problems”. Over-eager bots would shut down his streams with even some of his own work causing copyright conflicts. 

It was unsustainable, and David found he had to change his approach. He would need to circumvent these issues and the only way he’d be able to do that was with unreleased, original material. He packed away his new, pristine pair of decks and brought out his well-worn synthesisers and drum machines. He would “play new stuff with the gear,” making only original tracks in the moment for a virtual audience tuning in from home. He called the series Pan de mix

As the pandemic eased out of lockdown and the world started getting back on its feet, David was left with all this music on his harddrive and “offers from other labels” started to follow. Doing some minor post production on what was essentially the unaltered live performances, some of the tracks found their way onto Smallville Records with the rest of the music consolidated as a series of releases and eventually an album called the Pandemix Live Jams.

Pandemix Live Jams is just the latest in a prolific career as a recording artist and DJ, one that has its origins at the beginning of DJ culture and has continued to evolve and contribute to the contemporary history of electronic music. The record finds itself at the revival of he and Jonas Grossman’s legendary Source Records and its sound can be seen as a direct descendent of the sounds and spirits that influenced the start of the label. There’s the warmth of analogue equipment and the imperfect touch of human improvisation ebbing through the entire record, much like it did on that first record he and Jonas released as Deep Space Network almost thirty years ago.

Coincidental encounters

“That’s why they are called jams, because they really are jams,” says David from a telephone call via his hometown Heidelberg in Germany. He’s called Heidelberg home throughout his entire career, and it’s in the small town that he started his career as a DJ back in the eighties. 

“Life is just a stream of coincidences,” he ponders when thinking back to that time. “Born with the Beatles,” David moved through “Led Zeppelin and probably AC/DC,” during his formative years while he was learning to play the guitar. At that time, Heidelberg was the headquarters for NATO, and with “30 000 American soldiers in a town of 150 000” American music was in the air… literally. As a youth he could tune into the American radio station broadcast from the GI barracks, exposing David to a wider range of music than local stations would offer. The Americans “played stuff you wouldn’t hear on German radio like Parliament and Hendrix’s voodoo child” and it piqued a latent interest in music that eventually went beyond rock music. 

As he was coming of age, he started frequenting one of the “mainstream” discotheques in town where two DJs with “American GI backgrounds” would hold court over a record collection seven days a week. ”There was a shelf behind the DJ,” remembers David. “The club owner would give the oldest, most respectable DJ in the club (some) money to go record shopping and those records would go into the shelf.” While most of the crowd was dancing and having a good time, David was “watching, kind of nerding” and taking notes on where all the “good records” were kept. 

On an occasion when one of the American DJs got into “some trouble” with the local police and the discotheque was left in a crunch without a DJ, David stepped up to challenge. He persuaded the owner with; “I come here regularly and I know where the good records are.” That was all it took and David was inducted into the resident DJ lineup. 

By that point David had already been into electronic music for a while. An initial interest came “when the technology arrived” around “1976, the year before the prophet 5 (synthesiser) was invented.” Not being able to afford a piano, his mother bought him the more affordable (then not so much now) electric Fender Rhodes piano, planting a seed for manipulating electronic sounds. It evolved from there with the first “major milestone”, a Tascam four track cassette recorder, before Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” eventually saw David fall into a rabbit hole of machine music. “That was a very important track for me,” insists David, “it changed my life”. That track encouraged him to buy his first drum machine and started the decline in an interest in rock music altogether.

By 1985/ ‘86 he heard the first DJs beat mixing on trips to Italy, where clubs were  “spearheading” the evolution of the dance floor at that point. At his local discotheque however “beat mixing wasn’t really a thing.“ It was more of a “mainstream place” where you “would hear Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder every other night when it was somebody’s birthday.” David stepped into this role on a pair of rudimentary belt driven turntables, spending a couple of hours every night practising beat mixing, before the audience would inevitably flock in and start requesting the last chart hits. 

He never considered it a job, thinking this was going to be a mere stepping stone between school and university, “like a bartender or waitress.” His first inkling that this could be a job, was meeting a friend of a girlfriend who had been “Djing for 12 years,” and even then it seemed incredulous. “To me this was shocking!” snickers David. “I was full of pity for this guy.” The money David had been earning at the discotheque “was barely enough to pay rent” and he “couldn’t” even “afford to buy vinyl with my money,” but the fiscal focus took a back seat to the music he was playing and starting to make in his free time.

Rock n Roll is dead

While playing in bands, he had had access to a studio and like so many of David’s stories, it was mere coincidence that he started making music for “short movies or advertisements” out of that studio during this time. It put him on a “path moving away from the band” and towards early prototype Techno without even knowing it. “I was making Techno in a way like all electronic music, without thinking this could actually be released. I hadn’t heard my first house record yet.”

“It was all thanks to D-Man really, who started putting on Acid House parties around ‘88” in town, insists David about his introduction to this music. The DJ, who is a little older than David, brought characters like Ron Trent and DJ Pierre to Mannheim, a town just outside Heidelberg, with people from as far afield as France and Switzerland frequenting what would become a scene. David ”got to hear these amazing DJs” and it had “a huge influence” on his own nascent prospects as a DJ and producer, but it wouldn’t be until he met Jonas Grossmann that these efforts started to take shape as Deep Space Network and Source Records by the early nineties. 

Source Records and the scene that he and Jonas created around the label which included KM20 studios and the local “hangout” Milk! has remained a touchstone on the history of Techno and House music. Aphex Twin would stay with David when he was in town, while the KM20 studio would feed into Milk and become legends in their own right. Milk! was an ambient café, “a kind of hippy place” according to David, where you could get your coffee served by Jonas or David while being served the latest creations coming out of KM20. We were playing this music and we were the people making this music” and this “really drew people.”

Move D

Those rose tinted glasses aren’t looking so rosy

David rambles through these pivotal moments in his career in a matter-of-fact tone that places all the emphasis on characters like D-Man – and later in the conversation, Lakuti – without much concern for his own incredible achievements. He almost brushes over his entire career in the nineties summing up a decade in a few concise sentences before moving on again to the present.

“It’s easy to be nostalgic,” he says before warning, “but I wouldn’t over-idealise it.” Yes, it was originally “ grounded in this freakish thing,” where impromptu parties would pop up in abandoned buildings and the woods,” but it was also the dawn of Techno’s commercial success and with that came pitfalls. 

Deep Space Network and Source records would be part of this momentum too. “People were ripping the albums out of our hands,” says David without hyperbolic inflection, while he and Jonas were being flown to London for NME photoshoots. With Source Records they had found a niche as Techno was booming with the advent of what David defines as “listening Techno,” but we would probably call ambient today. There was certainly something in the air at that point which coincided nicely with things like Warp’s Artificial Intelligence releases, and they all soon found they had become the darlings of the media. But trends moved quickly, and in “one year Aphex twin was god and two years later the headlines were ambient is dead.”

Source Records remained prominent during this period, with classic records like Roman Flügel’s “Ro70” and Move-D’s “Kunststoff” entering the label’s catalogue, and even during ambient’s death spiral they were still introducing new and exciting artists like Lowtec to the world. 

Throughout all this time however David’s career as a DJ remained suspiciously low key. “It didn’t really matter in the nineties,” he says of Djing. “It was all local or German clubs.” He was “doing ok, making money” from selling records, and the label would sustain him as he became a stay-at-home dad. He would play “Techno parties,” both as a DJ and a live performer, and while there “was extra money” in that at a time when the fees were particularly high, he never considered it a career. 

And by the “end of the nineties the introduction of the cd burner and then Napster was finally it for the prospect of making money as a label” too. “Winding down the label” during this period for the first time,  “less and less gigs,” started coming David’s way and in that unique catch 22 for any DJ, if “you’re not active, you’re forgotten in no time.” By the early 2000’s, David says; “my career was rock bottom. Nobody cared, neither for the records nor for the Djing. I was at a point, where I thought eventually I have to find myself a job.”

The job search never had materialised however.

Revival

“Again, it’s one of those lucky instances,” says David. With the global village shrinking in the shadow of the internet, David found fortune in the advent of social media. A friend had introduced him to MySpace and then suddenly, without much prompting, people from places as remote as the British midlands were reaching out. One of those people was Lerato Khathi, better known as Lakuti and synonymous today with her label Uzuri records. At that point she was still “putting on illegal warehouse parties in London” and invited David as a fan of Move D. 

“I didn’t even have a proper record bag,” remembers David who also recalls being “really nervous.” Playing after another DJ with a minimal set, the trepidation of following the stark sounds of his predecessor was getting closer. Luckily, the transition between DJs coincided with a power outage; a “ twenty minute break” and time for David to compose his thoughts while the crowd re-adjusted. It turned out to be a “good thing” and he was able to “reset the mood with cool Deep House.” It hit a nerve with an audience possibly somewhat fatigued from those minimal bleeps and “people lost their fucking minds.” It was pure kismet that it happened at a time that coincided with an era of Deep House’s own revival and in that scene Move D yet again became a vital proponent, bringing new audiences to this music and his own back-catalogue. 

He became a fixture on the scene, playing places like the much lauded invite-only Free Rotation festival, while releasing music again with labels like Workshop, Running Back and of course Uzuri knocking on his door. And while his working methods might have “been changing drastically” based on a curiosity that continues to go unsatisfied, there’s that consistency in the warm analogue sounds, and the imperfection in human improvisation that has remained consistent. It’s still there in Pandemix Live Jams finding a natural home in the 2nd phase of Source Records as an exclusive vehicle for his own music.

Move D remains a constant presence in the underground, and as a DJ he’s staked out a claim as one of the best. This is possibly his greatest claim. His ability to find some common ground with crowds, while playing on the dynamics of his own musical history has garnered a reputation as a DJ other DJs like to admire. 

I’ll still find my place

Today his sets can go “from more broken beats” to “Chicago acid” with a focus on “mixing styles” through his set. It’s what he admires most in other DJs too –  “That was my biggest complaint about the early 2000’s; I could be there for two hours and it was like they were playing one track.” And he’s not eclectic for the sake of casting a wide net, it comes down to his own personal tastes. ”Do what you believe is right and don’t try to please because you think you know that’s what people expect from you,” he says in some grand philosophical gesture. 

David doesn’t often talk in platitudes like this, so when he does, you have to stop and take a beat to let it sink in. There’s a wisdom there that only experience can bring, and he carries that over to a sincere commitment to the music he plays. “I want to entertain them, but I have to like it as well,” he adds as he considers the statement. We’re a long way from the eighties where a person like David “would get into a fucking fight about music,” and today he’s eager to share the optimism of an interconnected world where people are less stubborn.

He can see the positive aspects of being more “open-minded” about music, even if it might not be to his favour. He’s realistic that perhaps he’s not in that sweet spot of popularity like Source Records was in the 90’s or Deep House was in the early 2000’s, but “it’s ok” says David.” I’m aware my personal taste could be right and the pinnacle of what is hip and other times… they are far apart. Now we’re at a point where it’s medium far, but I’ll still find my place.” 

That place is enshrined in the history of electronic music today. 

Romjulsfestivalen 2022

Our annual Christmas celebration returns unfettered with a full lineup and some new concepts

After a couple of years of compromised Christmas celebrations we’re pleased to announce that our Romjulsfestivalen returns in full force, featuring international and local guests for the week-long Christmas celebration. Jaeger and Natt&Dag present Move D, Dusky and the newest Ostgut signee Fadi Mohem alongside our residents and a couple of new concepts between the 25th-30th of December.

Our stalwart concepts, Øyvind Morken’s Untzdag, Boogienetter, Skranglejazz and BigUP! take their places, while new concepts, Helt Texas and Flux join the lineup for the first year.

It kicks off with Øyvind Morken’s annual 1st day of Christmas foray, with the DJ celebrating an incredible year for his music, before moving on through Boogienetter and ending up at BigUP! Oslo’s Drum n Bass and Jungle crew are in the basement for this edition on a Friday no less, with a marathon DJ lineup that will make the foundations shake.

Ole HK presents Helt Texas on their usual Thursday spot with Dusky, Vibeke Bruff and Synk, after a Techno assault midway through the week with the Flux collective. After their last visit to the basement, Flux takeover both floors with newly inducted Ostgut resident, Fadi Mohem. Skranglejazz are back in their usually spot with House veteran Move D returning to Jaeger.

Tickets are already on sale via ticketco so make sure to grab a ticket to avoid the queue.

Premiere: Henrik Villard – Jordbær (BCR)

Henrik Villard pre-empts his latest release with an email claiming “Jordbær” and its two companions on his and BCR‘s next release, “Sveve” is a “slightly different style from me.” On the first listen it’s familiar alongside Villard’s efforts for the BCR label. Its deep groove carves trenches in the recesses of traditional House, while the artist’s effervescent touch for atmosphere remains at the fore of its appeal. Pads and synthesisers establish a heady firmament of textures, anchored in a low end rumble. A lysergic 303 bass-line emerges from the lower register, growing into the central motif alongside the determined groove.

It develops into fully formed song inspiring another listen and then another, and it’s at that point when you hear it. There is something different here. Whispers of noise stick to the atmosphere and the low bass takes on a menacing character. There’s something raw and visceral operating in the background behind the established  melodic ideas and pristine production touches.

“Jordbær” and the rest of “Sveve” finds Henrik Villard explore a new realm, something indefinable and far from obvious. It’s not exactly a new direction from the artist, but hints at some new terrain from an artist whose musical prowess has been established with records for the likes of labels like Mhost Likely and more recently for Tensnake’s True Romance. We’re excited to premiere “Jordbær” today ahead of its official release this Friday and caught up with Henrik to ask about the exact nature of this new direction. We and ended up going deep into his production processes and the nature of BCR in this lengthy email exchange.

Henrik talks about the BCR nights at Jaeger; his “sound”; and how Sveve came together in this Q&A. “Jordbær” and “Sveve” is out this Friday via Bandcamp and catch Henrik Villard and BCR in the booth in December.

Hey Henrik. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. You introduced this record via email as “slightly different style from me.” What makes it different?

Hey Mischa! Thanks for having me. Yes, I did. The whole EP, Sveve, is a product of some intense hardware-jams, which is a shift from my usual in-the-box process of making music to being more hardware oriented. The limitations imposed by hardware made me realise that I need to approach the music making-process in a new way – which led to me being more open minded in terms of the ideas that came from jamming on the synths.

A typical Henrik Villard-sound might be a lot more lofi and not necessarily something you’d hear in a club setting, while the tracks on Sveve still have a slight lofi-feel to them (especially on the pads, in my view) these are tracks I’ve played out in a club setting.

What influenced the changes in your approach this time around?

It’s kind of two fold. I’ve felt for some time that I’ve been stagnating with the music I made, and sometimes it was not even that fun to make (a bit frustrating). So I decided to experiment more and try different approaches to making music – to make it fun again!

You’ve released quite a bit on other labels in the past. Was there any intention to make something for BCR this time and what changes when you do something for our own label?

Yes, I recently released an EP on Tensnake’s label “True Romance”, which I’m very proud of. The intention to make a release for BCR kind of grew at the same time as I started to experiment. And I knew that no matter what, I’d have Anders and Perkules’ blessing to express myself. I feel a lot more confident to experiment (even though it’s not really wild experimenting) with my tracks when the intention is to release it on BCR. It feels like I’m much more free to do what I want.

What in your opinion is the defining Henrik Villard sound in records like these?

To be honest I have a hard time pin-pointing what “my” sound is – maybe it’s in the way I imagine a baseline. To me, that’s been my main focus for a couple of years when I make music. I’ve let my TD-3 run hot on these tracks, and I like to think that how I process and automate it as it runs throughout the tracks is part of what makes up “my” sound for these tracks. Where does a certain element come in in the track? What kind of atmos/background sounds are used to “lift” the track? I think the three tracks are firmly rooted in a house-tradition, I use 909 and 707 drums and acid-lines, bass-motifs that are meant to be something that keeps the groove going throughout the track. This release really is an exercise in house-music as I’ve perceived it at the time.

You specifically chose “Jordbær” as the premiere. Why did you choose that track from this record?

I really like Jordbær cause the idea came together real quick. I just had an idea of what the track would be and mashed it out. It’s hard to pick favourites, but I think this track stands just a tad bit closer to my heart.

In what context would we usually find this record in one of your DJ sets?

I’ve played it out a lot. I think it works well to set the mood in a set, and I like to think that it has some sort of dubby-quality (especially The piano). Not really a peak track, but before and after, hehe.

The thing that strikes me first is the bass, that deep rumbling consistent underneath the track. Tell us a bit more about how this track started and took shape?

The track started with the rimshot rhythm that goes through most of the track, then came some more drums. Then I made a pad sound, and also “jammed out” a baseline. After that I tried out a couple of acid-lines until I got the one you can hear in the song.  

Any specific records that influenced this sound?

Genius of Times’ “Sunswell” and Qnete and Carmel’s “Vierfecta”. The “floatiness” of Sunswell and the static nature of the drums and rhythm on Vierfecta.

At its crux though it’s that acid refrain that comes in during the height of the track, breaking through the atmosphere. It’s more like a song than a track.  From where do you draw your ideas for arrangement and melodies?

Oh, I feel like I’m the least creative when it comes to arranging tracks. I usually work with 16-bar sections, and I work a lot with filters. So I usually introduce an element (a stab, vox, etc) in the start of a 16-bar section, and use the filter to fade it in. For melodies I love to make a sound on a synth, and while I’m turning knobs something (like a meloyi, a motif) usually just catches my ear.

At what point do you realise a track like this is good enough to find a spot on a record? 

That’s a tough one. Because when you make the track, you listen to it over and over again. And it can sometimes be a bit hard to judge whether a track is good or not. I think we all know the feeling of working on a track the whole day, and then when you listen to the same track the next day, it sounds like garbage/crappy/bad. In my case I go off the tracks (and ideas) that don’t sound bad the day after, and if I like the idea I’ll keep working on it. It is also very helpful to get input and feedback from Anders and Perkules.

BCR has now been fully inducted in the Jaeger roster. Tell me what you guys take away from your nights here and how it folds into what you do at the label? 

For me, our summer residency (Sundaze) helped me evolve my taste in electronic music, it really helped broaden my horizon. We’ve also talked about that through our nights at Jaeger we’ve learned a lot about crowds, DJing together, and I’ve learned a lot about what kind of tunes work out (or not). A key takeaway is that I’ve noticed when a crowd reacts to a song, I’ve tried to take the memory or the sense of the crowd with me when I make music.

From the stuff I’ve been hearing from Anders Hajem and Perkules coming via the label, it seems there’s a general progression towards that new plateau. And you saying there’s a slight difference in this record, suggests there’s some evolution there. Is that right?

I would very much agree that there’s a progression or evolution of our respective sounds. Over the last 12 months I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from tracks and ideas that Anders and Perkules have shown me. They have been a great source of inspiration, and I like to think that the same goes for them. So I think we are able to inspire each other to take things towards a new plateau. Also I’ve had a sense of need to do something new in my music, and tried my best to act on this. 

And where do you see that evolution taking BCR and your own music in the future?

I’d really like for this evolution in sound to take BCR to new heights, I’d love for our music to reach more people. The same goes for my own music. We’re planning some exciting things for BCR so keep an eye out for updates.

Watch Digitizer (live) from the Jaeger Mix

Stream the video from the last jaeger mix session featuring Digitizer and his machines live from the sauna.

During the last Jaeger mix Electro descended on the backyard, curated by Elektro Romantik’s Robotic (Robin Crafoord) and featuring Digitizer. The Oslo native brought his machines to the sauna, to take an intrepid trip through some of his recorded works. Besides recording the live set in audio, we also trained a couple of camera’s on the artist for a video that you can stream now.

Read the interview with artist and find an audio only version of the mix here. Digitizer talks extensively about his history, electro and why he enjoys the live format.

The Jaeger Mix returns in December with Keecen and Olefonken.

Keep ’em Dancing with Boris Dlugosch

“My main goal when I play… I want everybody to have a good time.” Boris Dlugosch speaks from experience. “When you’ve played music for thirty years” like Boris “and you’ve played all kinds of styles of music,” all sense of ego and hubris falls away and what’s left is the music and dance floor. 

Boris Dlugosch has made a notable career for himself built on this foundation. He was there at the start, back in the eighties at the legendary Hamburg club called FRONT. He rode a wave of success as a producer concurrently with House music’s rise to fame in the early nineties with people like Masters at Work clambering for his work. He introduced Mousse T. to the world during a time when the track “Horny” propelled that artist to the mainstream. He found notoriety as a remix artist, adapting some of the world’s most revered pop songs for the club, and throughout it all he remained a steadfast figure in the booth. He continues to be a touchstone for some of the world’s recognised DJs like Gerd Janson and our very own Olle Abstract, and today it his profile as a DJ is encapsulated in something like mythic lore.

Boris Dlugosch plays LYD this Saturday

He started his career during a time when New Beat, House and Synth pop lived in  harmonious synchrony in the mix. He was an earlier adopter of Chicago- then New York  House. He played the latest from the French electro scene when acts like Daft Punk were still in their infancy and continued to adapt and evolve through the ages. Today he can be found playing at places like the Golden Pudel at home and while he still releases original music, most notably through Running Back, he remains a DJ’s DJ. His latest record, courtesy of Running Back stands testament to that. Unlike 2017’s Traveller on the same label, this is not an original work, but the second instalment of a compilation series, celebrating the music he played at FRONT. It’s the place where Boris had made his debut and retained a residency until closing in the mid nineties and probably the first highlight on his illustrious career. It’s here where I want to start our conversation when I call him up for an interview. 


The compilation ties a red thread from his beginnings up to the present day, and as reflection of a time and place, it’s significant, but coming out in a contemporary backdrop it stands on its own with its raw inhibited energy and indefinable sonic aesthetic, it captures a certain spirit through this timeless music. But before we get there, we have to acknowledge the city from which it was born. 

Boris Dlugosch is in Hamburg when I call him up; a city with a lot of music history especially club music. With artists like Helene Hauff, Boys Noize, Digitalism and Koze also hailing from the German city, there’s certainly a legacy there that’s hard to pin down. If ”the Beatles coming to Hamburg” has anything to do “with the first House club or the record store where Boys Noize and Jens (Digitalism) worked,” Boris can’t say, but he recognises “certain things bring other things” and there has certainly been a hive of musical activity ever since, and perhaps even before the fab four (then five) set foot on Hamburg soil. 

Unsurprisingly, Boris too “was always into music.” He had a keen ear and “picked up a lot of new music from the radio.” He played drums in a heavy metal band amongst other things and listened to everything from rock to electronic music. It was, like so many other things in Boris’ career, “a coincidence” that led him to the decks initially and eventually on a path to becoming a FRONT resident. 

The story goes that he had been working as a checkout bagger at a local grocery store and the till operator at the time was the mother of the cover guy at FRONT. On one fortuitous afternoon “he invited” Boris “to his house” where Boris found the lure of “two turntables… and a huge record collection” all too appealing. Boris realised immediately, “I want to do this” and as luck would have it (again), his new friend was looking to part with  setups.

Boris inherited a “pair of rubbish turntables and a mixer” and started learning the craft of the DJ. He was still “too young” and looked even younger, to enter FRONT at that point and had to “wait a year.” Meanwhile he already “had the tapes from ‘83 and ‘84 from the club,” and he could hone his craft through what he heard on those tapes. Boris had “always had an ear for music” and seemed to understand the mechanics of DJing intuitively. Apart from being able to distinguish the music being played, he also started to grasp what the DJ was actually doing. At FRONT particularly, “it wasn’t about the show or how good you were,” he remembers, “but more about the selection of music.” Eventually he put a mixtape together with that focus, which landed in the hands of the owners at FRONT. His selections had particularly resonated with the forces behind the club and by 1985 he joined Klaus Stockhausen as one of the club’s only two residents. 

“I was about 16 when I first went to the club.” Boris remembers a completely “different universe” when he walked through the doors for the first time. It was a largely gay crowd wearing “a lot of leather” with “all kinds of weird people” in the mix. Pictures from the time show a dance floor of men in various stages of undress, and by all accounts it was not about what you wore at FRONT, but by what you didn’t wear. The leather, the moustaches, the marble-like physiques, and even the name, all exuded masculinity, but what struck Boris “the most was the music.” In a matter of a few visits. He had become “totally hooked.” Boris “had been to two or three other clubs before, but nothing like this.” 

“The music was 80’s, high energy, some disco and pop music.” Klaus Stockhausen played 12” versions of familiar tracks “being played on the radio,” remixed by the likes of Shep Pettibone and reconstituted for the dance floor. The DJ booth was nothing but a “box,” obscured by “dark windows,” where the DJ or crowd could only distinguish silhouettes on the other side. It was all “part of the mystery” of the place, but it was also a time when the “DJ wasn’t such a big thing.” People didn’t come to see a DJ, they came to hear the music and at FRONT the selection of music was in a class all on its own.

By the time Boris stepped into the booth at FRONT in ’85, the “first House music records from Chicago came in.” It ”sounded different from anything we heard before” and Boris’ musical ear gravitated to it. “I was always into electronic music and weird sounds” considers Boris. “I was also into melodies and vocals and House had all of that. It had soul and Funk, but at the same time it was something completely new, from another planet.” These records would be part of a “great mixture” of sounds that would include everything from those early pop records, Belgium New Beat and eventually the sounds of Acid coming via the UK. 

Literally hundreds of mixtapes exist online from FRONT during that time, and skimming through them is a window into a long lost forgotten world, where some things are instantly familiar or at least accessible and every track permeates with an infectious groove. “Maybe listening to the mixtapes today,”  considers Boris, you might feel like the DJ is “only playing the hits,” but back then you only “pulled out the best and strongest records.” There was “no ego, no showing off” from the DJ according to Boris –  how could there be you could barely see the DJ – and everything the DJ played or did was in order to “keep ‘em dancing.”  

For ten years this was Boris Dlugosch’s only objective as a resident at FRONT. Together with Klaus Stockhausen, they had created their “own little Paradise Garage,” but they were still an anomaly. At the time Boris “was probably picking the same records as David Morales or Frankie Knuckles,” but without any knowledge of these DJs, it was pure coincidence. He had no reference point, or mixtapes to influence these decisions. “The good thing about back in the day is that you didn’t know about anything else,” remembers Boris. “Now you think the epicentre of the music is London and New York,” explains Boris, “but all over Europe there were little tiny clubs all playing the same music and had the same vibe going.” In Hamburg especially, they were their “own little island,” isolated even from the rest of Germany who had largely been focussed on the sounds of Trance and Techno at the forefront. House music was still largely unknown, but people like a young Gerd Janson would flock to FRONT to hear this new unusual music. 

As the nineties rolled in and House music’s popularity grew in a world that became more connected, Boris too was swept up in the furore around the genre. The music he had been playing for years at FRONT had finally reached an international audience, and where before in Hamburg, they had very little connection beyond the city, suddenly they were part of a global phenomenon, thanks to the Americans.  

By that stage Boris Dlugosch had started remixing and editing his own records. As a DJ “you start thinking this record could sound better,” and with more “access to studios and gear” he developed these skills while still working the floor at FRONT. The “big breakthrough” came when he stumbled across a record at his local record store. “It sounded poppy, there was something there,” he remembers today. There was a phone number on the record – yes, people put their phone numbers on dance records back then – and he called up the artist. That artist turned out to be a nascent Mousse T. Boris made the journey down to Hanover, to a big studio complex, where he met with the young artist and they “immediately clicked and started producing together.” Adopting the pseudonym BOOM! they released “Keep Pushing.” in 1996. 

Boris had already started touring as a DJ, mostly in Germany alongside visiting American dignitaries like Todd Terry, which led to invitations to industry events like the Miami music conference. It was in Miami, purely by “coincidence” yet again that the new record found their way into some influential record bags. Stuttering vocals by Inaya Day sit alongside striped percussive work with gritty synthesisers pulsing through the mix. It had that immediate crossover appeal and the industry responded in kind. Faxes from the likes of Tony Humphries started coming through praising the track, and the record was eventually licensed to Louis Vega and Kenny Dope’s Master’s at Work label. 

It was an “absolutely crazy” time for Boris as “things came together.” His ear for a melody, his intuitive sense of rhythm and his experience of the dance floor culminated in a style of House music that was primed for the commercial market, but it never really came to fruition for Boris like it did for Mousse T. While his colleague and production partner found success with his track “Horny,” Boris’ efforts remained largely relegated to the underground. Even though Boris Dlugosch was on the A-side on the original “Horny” promo release with “Live Your Life Your Way” – a track with as much merit as its B-Side counterpart – it was the Mousse T. original that garnered most of the attention (it’s controversial title for the time probably influencing it) leaving at least one Discogs user to ponder: “Quite why this little gem from Boris Dlugosch never saw a commercial outing remains a mystery.”

Boris Dlugosch

The music industry is a cruel mistress and Boris Dlugosch, whether unlucky or overlooked, never saw the mainstream successes that many of the people he worked with enjoyed. “After a couple of years, you are not getting your royalty statements and you’re not getting paid and these guys have Maseratis and Porsches,” you can’t help but question the nature of the industry. While people like Todd Terry were getting well “40 000” for remixes on the same records that Boris were doing for free, and royalty cheques from the success of “Keep Pushing” never found his pocket, Boris remained seemingly content in his own success. Talking to him today, there is no sense of anger, frustration or regret. “In Germany, we were still the outsider because Techno was big and our music was still in small clubs,” he insists. Even while he would often hear his tracks on the radio in places like Ibiza and Italy during the height House music’s success, it seems Boris Dlugosch prefers to exist, in the small clubs that thrive in the underground.

He still prefers to be considered more of “ a DJ than a producer” and rarely plays out his own music, with one of the few exceptions being his last EP of original music on Running Back. “That’s the last track that I really loved that I did.” He is more focussed playing at places like the Golden Pudel in Hamburg and as a DJ he’s remained a fixture at places like these throughout different phases of club culture and club music, adapting with each new zeitgeist.

During his days at FRONT, at a time “when the music continued to get harder,” he changed direction literally overnight. “From one weekend to the other I switched over to playing only New York underground music.“ The same happened again in 1999 and 2000 when, at a time when House music was on MTV and entrenched on the radio, he decided to focus on the French Electro sound at the forefront of a new scene. “I was just bored,” remembers Boris of that time. “Hearing a mixtape by 2 many DJs,” he found music that played on nostalgic feelings, and yet remained contemporary. “They (2 Many DJs) were mixing all this music I loved from childhood (rock music) together with club music,” and again  Boris found a voice in that sound too. 

Throughout he’s remained a relevant figure on the scene, and still plays all over Germany, perhaps only taking a break during the pandemic. Respected by the underground, Boris Dlugosch has remained a significant DJ, and there’s few working in the DJ and clubbing scene today that haven’t been in awe of his prowess in the booth at one time or another. His days at FRONT is enshrined in club music history, reflected yet again in this Running Back series, and as we as a clubbing industry and community continue to move away from those early underground roots into commercial avenues, those times still echo with the raw and inhibited emotions that is at the core of club music for any given epoch. Few embody that spirit and that attitude to a dance floor quite like Boris Dlugosch. 

Chop Chop: An interview with Glitter 55

The tempo in Jaeger’s basement is creeping up to that 150BPM mark. It’s not even midnight yet, but people are literally bouncing off the walls as they push past the wall of bass to get a glimpse of the DJ. I’ve become accustomed to hearing these excessive tempos  recently, but there is something unique to this particular experience. Where those tempos usually exist for saccharine melodies inverted in some functionalist dystopia, there is something more enticing and esoteric about what I’m hearing at this moment. Exotic textures, heavily borrowed from African and Arab traditions, weave through monstrous electronic kick drums to make an intricate lattice of unique rhythm structures and ethereal melodies.

This is Glitter 55 in full effect. The Moroccan DJ has cultivated a unique sound as a DJ over the last 5 years as she consolidates music from the Arab World and Africa with the stark sound of western electronic music. “I play music from the UK and US – bass music mainly”, she confirms, “and I try to put some influences from home or from Africa in there.” Home is officially in Rabat, but Glitter 55 speaks in a melodious French accent, the Morocco inflections softened by years spent in France. She introduces herself as Manar and we sit down in the backyard to the sounds of House music playing in the background. She’s just finished her soundcheck, and I was lucky enough to get a private sonic glimpse for the night ahead.

Her sound unfolds like a collage of disparate influences of a global diaspora, deconstructed and re-assembled for the purpose of the dance floor. At heart of it all is her unique musical heritage. Taking elements of “percussion from local (Moroccan) music called Chaabi”,  “vocals from Raï” or drums from South Africa’s gqom artists like DJ Lag, Glitter 55 reconstitutes these pieces alongside those UK and US bass sounds that she finds via soundcloud and bandcamp. It lends a well-travelled aesthetic to musical constructions that would be familiar to any club goer, especially those that came out to hear her play for Oslo World on the night. It’s world music, not in its truncated form as a non-western music, but rather in its most obvious description. It’s music that truly represents the world, or at least more of it than just one region.

It’s a sound Glitter 55 seems to embody in personality more than just taste with very few references or similarities being drawn to other DJs or artists. In a mere five years she has created the type of artistic identity in a sound that usually takes a lifetime to master, starting with a passion for music and leading to Djing; her Frissa nights  (“It means chop chop, always in a hurry, and a big mess”) and soon the recorded format (“Hopefully it will be released next year”) consolidating all her early influences and contemporary electronic music. 

Growing up in Rabat, Morocco, Glitter 55 was exposed to music from all over the world from a young age. Her mother listened largely to “Egyptian music” while her father gravitated towards the “fusion” pop sounds of something like the Moroccan equivalent of “the beatles”. She also remembers her “uncle listened to a lot of French pop music” and she still admires pop music with everything from “Egyptian and Lebanese pop,” to “Dua Lipa” informing her tastes today. Hearing all these “different styles of music… growing up” instilled an early passion for music, leading to enrolling in the Royal Gendarmerie’s music conservatory at a very young age, where she studied “music theory and singing”. 

At 16 she moved to France, arriving at Amiens, before moving to “Lille to study cultural studies and then to Paris.” It was in Paris where she started working as “an agent in the music industry”. Taking care of Arabic artists like Tinariwen amongst other things, she was certainly busy in the scene, but had made no significant steps towards her own career as a DJ until later. If she was a precocious music talent it’s hard to know at this point, because she worked largely behind the scenes, but there was clearly a nascent talent when she took to the decks for the first time. 

“I had a friend who was promoting a party, and was doing everything during the party,” she recalls about her first furore into Djing. “He was having issues with a band, and he asked me to play some songs for 10 minutes. I was like, ‘no, I don’t know how to use this machine.’” It went from trepidation to excitement, but she quickly found an experience she “enjoyed a lot” and wanted to learn more. “Thanks to youtube” and “a lot of tutorials” she learnt the basics and started taking her first steps towards a DJ career. She took on the name Glitter 55 as an homage to her Grandma (55 representing the evil eye of local tradition) and her personal affection for glitter socks (which I hadn’t noticed she was wearing on the night) and set on a course to a career in Djing alongside her work in the industry.

Manar had not been a stranger to DJing and electronic music in Morocco however. Attending “some festivals” and “rave parties,” she encountered a sound that leaned to “Trance and psychedelic stuff and hard Techno,” but it wasn’t until she started DJing herself that she started to explore the vast expanse of her own musical influences. It’s “music from Morocco or Africa, mixed with music that I love and discovered in France,” she considers. 

Today she “can play hard Techno and Disco and other stuff,” interwoven with those Arabic and African influences. With few others exploring these eclectic dimensions from the booth today, she has been left largely to her own devices and has prospected the limits of her own formative tastes extensively through her sets and her radio show on Rinse FM.

A mere two years after making her debut as a DJ Glitter 55 was inducted in the Rinse FM family as a resident for their French station and soon thereafter started playing around Europe and further afield. She “was amazed” when the call from Rinse FM came so soon after picking up DJing, but she is certainly a unique entity on the Radio’s programming schedule today. Her show “Atay Time” sees her “invite the artists that I love” from “all over the world” retaining that obvious connection with her own roots as  guests like Lara Sarkissian and Jabes represent a vast global diaspora. 

Artists and DJs like these and Glitter 55 herself  have brought a distinctive Arab sound to these western contexts in what is beginning to feel more than just a moment for our scene. Ignoring for a moment that people like Acid Arab and Asian Dub Foundation have experimented with Arab and Eastern sounds in electronic club music for some time, artists like Glitter 55 are breathing a new life into the clubbing landscape, by bringing something unique and contemporary to fore. 

In Paris, she has found a scene that shares the ideology. “It’s not a specific place,” however, “it’s different venues and promoted by collectives, who get people from all across the Arab world.” It’s “represented by artists from Africa living in Paris,” people like ”Deena Abdelwahed from Tunisia” but it’s not merely contained in Paris either. It’s also “in Amsterdam, where there’s a lot of parties being promoted by people from the Arab world.” 

The sound has reached Oslo too on occasion, with the likes of Sama AbdulHadi and Omar Soleymann making visits to Norway in the recent past and it certainly has captured an audience here too as we witnessed from the turn out for Glitter 55 and Acid Arab for the Oslo World event. 

Even within that wider appreciation for Arab and African sounds within a western musical dialect, Glitter 55 remains different. Her Chaabi influence which is “more about the  melody and the drums, the rhythmic structures of the sound” make for interesting bedfellows with the bass heavy rhythms of gqom and the blank slate that Techno and Bass music provides for these sounds as a platform. “You can mix the two quite easily,” says Manar “with the rhythmic structure” finding an interesting sympathy between genres like “bass music” and the very same “Egyptian music” she grew up listening to as a child. It’s music that resonates with western audiences as well their African and Arab counterparts, with the only difference being that “people sing along”  to the music back home.

People might not be singing along to the music at Jaeger on the night, but regardless, it’s made an indelible mark on the crowd as the 150 beats per minute subsides into quiet before a cheer erupts in the quiet. 

Charting a new trajectory with Interstellar Funk

Sitting down with Dekmantel artist and DJ, Interstellar Funk ahead of a showcase at Jaeger to talk about the evolution of his sound as an artist and his trajectory into one of the most respected DJs on the circuit today.

Interstellar Funk (Olf van Elden) is an anomaly in our musical galaxy. His music, whether he’s indulging early influences of Detroit House and Chicago or stepping off the grid into new ambient realms, is incredibly hard to categorise and illusive in its appeal. There’s always something functional lurking in the background, with a sense of a tranquil melancholy delivered in bristling synth melodies and uninhibited rhythm sections. 

His records have found their way on labels that thrive and indulge that sonic aesthetic – labels like Rush Hour, L.I.E.S, Berceuse Heroique and Dekmantel – and as a DJ he’s expounded on that sound, cultivating a unique reputation amongst his peers and audience alike. His music has always been very “synth based” with a nod to the vintage sounds. “I always use old synths,” explains  Olf, “and it’s always based on little melodies, less sample based, less drum based.” 

Between his associations with Dekmantel; his earlier work at Rush Hour; and his various connections with the people behind Club11/Trouw/De School he is something of an Amsterdam institution in his own way. A regular fixture at the Dekmantel festival since its inception, Interstellar Funk is practically part of the crew there. He is one of the most-featured artists on the lineup, and when they are touring the Dekmantel festival around clubs around Europe, he is on the figurative tour bus.

It seems only apt that his debut LP comes via the Dutch label. After nearly a decade of 12” and EPs Interstellar Funk has finally made his debut on the long player format in 2022 with Into The Echo. The record, coming together during the pandemic, sees the artist channel the sound he’s cultivated across his previous records towards a softer, more organic sound, suited for the album package. 

Delving into his past experience at Rush Hour, the Amsterdam-based record store of some repute, where he started as an intern, Interstellar Funk charts a journey through those formative experiences digging through the record store’s shelves on this album according to earlier interviews. The result is an LP that surprises at times in the context of Interstellar Funk’s more club-orientated work and yet again defies categorisation. Into the Echo reflects on an introverted time for humanity in a way that only Interstellar Funk could, and while it moves away from the club, it hardly breaks all contact in the machine-heavy aesthetic of the artist. 

It’s something he is carrying through to his next record at least, a 12″ on his own label, created around the same time with his piano teacher and friend Loradeniz. “It sounds quite similar” to the album says Olf with the pair bonding over “same kind of music” and recording the record pretty fast during the same pandemic period as the album. It suggests an evolution in the artist’s sound and when we sat down to talk to him before his appearance for the Dekmantel showcase last Frædag at Jaeger it was one of the many questions we had lingering. 

 

Let’s start with the album. Why was this the right time for you to put out your debut LP?

I wasn’t really planning to do the album. I always wanted to make an album, but time-wise it was always a bit difficult, because I was playing a lot and I needed more time in the studio. I was supposed to release a 12” on Dekmantel in 2020 and then the pandemic started, and I pulled back the 12” because it was a bit more clubby, and it didn’t make sense. And then I was like: “I’m just gonna keep on working on the project and see where it goes.” 

So the tracks weren’t ready ahead of the album?

I had those four tracks ready, and I took those four tracks as the direction of the album. In the end only two tracks made it onto the album and the rest didn’t. It was more like now I have the time, and it was nice to have a project, because I needed something to work on. I just decided to try to make an album and see how it goes and this is what came out. 

Did you have an idea for the record like what you wanted it to sound like?

I had some inspiration and some ideas. Like with electronic albums, I always like it when it touches more genres and not only club stuff. With an album you can go deeper and different directions than with 12”. I took the freedom to go a bit further from the dance floor. 

That’s something I picked up from listening to it, it sounds very organic compared to the past 12’s you’ve released.

I think, because I had this in mind, and that I spent so much time in the studio, it probably changed my sound a little bit. It evolved into something.

Do you think it might make it into future records?

Yeah, I’m not only interested in club music, I like other stuff. The idea of making albums and doing whatever you like, that freedom you have, it’s really interesting.

My association with your music has always been strongly toward beat music with a dark, wavy sound. Are you stepping away from that sound?

The problem is people always compare you with something. If you play a few wave tracks, people suddenly think you’re a wave DJ, but I like it all. I was  always into Detroit, Techno and Chicago. I like really dark, experimental and I like wave a lot, but it’s not like I’m only focussing on those things. There is a lot of experimental ambient stuff I like, and maybe you can hear that on the album. 

Yes, I can certainly hear some of that ambient influence. I read somewhere that your time at Rush Hour influenced it too. How did the record store influence it?

I worked there for eight years and I discovered a lot of music there. When I started working there I was mainly listening to Detroit and Chicago, like Omar S and Theo Parrish. They also did a lot with Brazilian music and African music (at Rush Hour), so I learnt a lot about different genres there. You’re also surrounded by records and people that know a lot about music, so you definitely learn to appreciate other styles. Maybe more than when you’re only a DJ and focussing on club music. A little Disco and Italo, but a lot of Jazz, Brazilian and African music. 

When did you start working at Rush Hour?

I started there as an intern in 2012. I worked out of the office, mainly for the label.

How did you end up at Rush Hour?

I went to art school and I had to do an internship, and my direction in art school was in music. I was already going (to Rush Hour) to buy records and stuff, and my dream was always to work there. 

And this was before you started DJing?

I was already buying records. 

I read about your brother being involved in club 11 (predecessor to Trouw and De School). Was that your initial introduction into clubbing and Djing?

Yes, club 11 was a really good club and they did loads of cool parties there. I always went there with my dad to support his (Jorn van Elden) parties. 

How old were you at that point? 

15 or 16. Because my brother was doing the parties it was fine (to get in). I don’t think they were that strict. 

And your dad would go with you?

Just to support. He still comes to parties now and then, he was at the (last) Dekmantel festival. 

Does he have an interest in this music?

He’s more interested in what I do. Just a proud dad, standing in front. 

What kind of music was he listening to when you guys were kids?  

I don’t think he was interested in music at all. They were listening to music, but it wasn’t like I grew up in a musical family or something. 

I guess, because club culture has been so ingrained in Dutch culture, that it’s not unusual for the older generation to go to club nights or music festivals.

Yeah, maybe it’s more accepted, that’s true, but my Dad was an (athlete) so he wasn’t drinking or doing any drugs. He wasn’t into club music at all when he was younger. Maybe people that grew up in the eighties, they got into club music, but my dad is a little older. In the 70’s you didn’t really have that. 

So, since you weren’t really into that music and didn’t grow up in a musical family or anything, what drew you to club music initially?

I just liked the parties and the festivals. It was just a new world opening up. I wasn’t necessarily interested, but I did like the music. It was either really heavy Techno like DJ Rush or it was minimal like the Villalobos stuff. I liked it all and just partying. People showed up at afterparties and we had a turntable; we had one Technics and one shitty turntable and people just started to learn how to mix.

You came up at the same time as Dekmantel and I remember at that point Detroit House was huge in Amsterdam. Was that the stuff you started buying?

When I started going to Amsterdam, that’s when Dekmantel started going with their own parties, and that period from minimal shifted to Detroit and Disco. We saw Theo Parrish for the first time; it was a really interesting period. My first records were really shitty, but I remember buying the first 3 chairs double LP (Moodymann, Marcellus Pittman, Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish), and I still have that record. I was also a huge fan of Omar S and I’m still a huge fan. 

At what point do you go from Detroit House and start digging further into other genres?

I don’t know. I think you find a new genre, and you go deeper and you start buying and playing those records. I also used to buy a lot of Disco, because I saw Theo Parrish playing it, but I figured out maybe it wasn’t really my thing.

Were you making music throughout  all of this?

No, I started later. 

What was the catalyst for you to start making music?

I had a group of friends and one of the guys, Deniro used to have a lot of gear, an 808 and  909 – all the cool stuff.  Because of him, I collected money for my birthday and bought a Juno 60 (synthesiser). I always tried to make music on Ableton (computer software), but I couldn’t’ really figure it out, it was too complicated for me. I got a Juno 60 and a 707 (drum machine).

And then the debt starts… 

(laughs) It was definitely  an addiction.

You started around the same time that Dekmantel started. Did you always have a close relationship with them?

Amsterdam is pretty small and back then the scene was even smaller. There were a few parties. You had the Rush Hour that was pretty big, and then you had a party every Thursday at this club, everyone used to go. They (Dekmantel) used to play there and they had their own party in a small club in Amsterdam. It was a dirty place, mirrors on the walls and a dancing pole in the middle. It was a trashy, shitty place, but in a cool way.

Because the weekends were really long; you would go out on Thursday, then you go to an afterparty and thgo out on Friday. You hang out with the same people for hours and days, and you build up friendships quite fast. 

You’re probably one of the most frequent return guests to the festival. 

By now I might be. 

So doing the record for Dekamntel must solidify something?

I already had a few tracks on compilations (with Dekmantel). It was just a natural relationship, and it’s always nice to work with somebody you can trust and that you know really well. 

Getting back to your sound, do you think it marks a new chapter in your sound as an artist?

I think your sound always changes. If you look back to legendary producers, their sound always changes. If I listen back to my first record, it’s not something I would play now, but I also don’t hate it. It’s a lesson you keep learning. Your next release should always be better.

The Cut with Filter Musikk

I was watching the video for David Morales’ Needin you from 1998 recently. I’ll save you the trouble of watching it, (it’s quite cringy): It’s Morales, wearing enough bronzer to cover a small orca, indulging in the hedonistic pleasures that Ibiza had to offer. The New York DJ and producer appears in various stages of undress inter-spliced with scenes from club nights, with some familiar DJ faces from a distant past taking the focal point. Morales goes from shorts and vest on a plane to running on a beach in his speedo, but in each scene, he is carrying a record under his arm. 

Watching that video today, all I can think is; why is that guy taking his records to the beach? I hadn’t seen this video for a while, and I had to conjure a younger me, before I realised why this was: it was because back then that’s how we distinguished the DJ from the rest of the folks! At the time the DJ was still the faceless dude (yes they were mostly guys) in the back somewhere, playing records, and the only you would recognise him, was by the records. The DJ was that guy, and in 1998, the only guy with the record under his arm; even on the beach apparently. It was a time when the DJ as a superstar was only just starting to make its appearance, so few people really knew what David Morales and his kind looked like yet. So I guess he really wanted people to know he was a DJ.   

That association between the DJ and the vinyl has long gone. Music libraries that used to contain entire living rooms are on USB sticks and everything that used to be so exclusive with vinyl in the nineties is now much more accessible, and more importantly cheaper, online. Back in the day however the DJs and their records were an enigma. As a teenager, my only association with vinyl was my dad’s musty 70’s rock collection, and the DJs I admired were certainly not playing the Average White Band or Frank Zappa in their sets. They were playing futuristic music, on what the rest of the world believed was a redundant format, and you had to be a DJ or have a serious interest in these sounds to become a part of this elite club, at least until you started making strides to becoming a DJ. 

Obviously that exclusivity has disappeared with digital music and modern tools like Shazam opening up a door to what was this previously exclusive world. There are those moments however when even with these modem tools, you’re still left none-the-wiser, there’s still some mystery and intrigue behind these records, and 9 out of 10 times, it will be coming from a track pressed on vinyl.

Those connotations between the DJ and the vinyl format might be long gone, but one thing that remains, and is probably more prevalent than ever, is that mystery. It’s a sense of discovery, something that you would’ve never heard before. That’s why a place like Filter Musikk still exists; for those rarefied moments in hearing something that’s not on Spotify, those treasured pieces that you can still be unique to you as a DJ. And it’s those records that make the cut…  

 

Ike Release “Leisure Devices” Bliq BLIQ21

Bass modulations swelling from the deep; flinty chords bouncing over the clouds; and a groove you can step to. That’s our gateway into this record; the remix of the title track from Iron Curtis luring us into the Ike Release’s latest contribution for Bliq. The remix is only the start we soon find out, as it opens a doorway into a world of heady breakbeats and classic House from the Chicago artist across the rest of the record. 

You come for the remix, but stay for the rest. It’s one of those records that has a little of everything for any portion of the night, the record that will free up some space in your record bag. 

 

Nathan Kofi “Voltage Controlled Love Affair” De Lichting DLEP06

 

…My heart will go on? Those words will forever invoke the image of a young Leo DeCaprio on a cgi boat mirroring the image of the French-Canadian wraith Celine Dion belting out “near far, wherever you are” over a set of midi panpipes. 

Luckily that is where this analogy ends for this record from Nathan Kofi. If there is a love affair to be expressed at all here, it’s a menage-a-toi between an artist and his drum machine and synthesiser. The romance is cultivated in wispy atmospheres and grooves that penetrate deep beyond the immediate. From the lethargic acid-tinged opener to the shuffling Electro of “Candy Girl,” Nathan Kofi delivers an engaging and soulful record across these four tracks.  

Textures envelope the listener, swelling between drums that remain subverted in the overall atmospheres of these tracks. It’s hard not to fall in love with this one. 

 

O-Wells “Moldoom” Die Orakel ORKL-X-96 

 

Across dance floors currently dominated by excessive tempos and cheesy refrains that figure closer to Hard House than Techno, it’s good to hear some hi-tech soul still in the background. Lennard Poschmann is back as O_wells on the Die Orakel. Uhe producer takes another sojourn via Detroit to Frankfurt through this record, instilling that timeless sound of Techno the rest of the scene seem to have forgotten.

Moldoom lives in that funky realm between Techno and Electro, before they would become disentangled, possibly best reflected in the stuttering kick drums and irreverent bass of “Rhytim”.  Even when Poschmann goes straight with a 4-4 track like the title track, there’s something unusual like an accent on the upbeat or an eerie resonance, taking the focus away from the strong beats.

At the record’s highpoint “Coscio” delivers an Electro cut that would make Drexciya proud, swimming in cinematic sounds and a toe-tapping rhythm section.

 

Jensen Interceptor, DeFeKT – Free Your Mind (Tresor) 12″

 

Jensen Interceptor’s records are like that elephant in the room. It’s like – “o-shit! There’s a freaking elephant in this room!” There’s nothing subtle about it and the production is so big that playing it alongside any other Electro record, it simply takes over and drowns out anything that’s come before or after it. 

We wouldn’t expect anything less from the producer when he teamed up withMatthew Flanagan’s DeFekt for  Tresor record. In fact putting those three things together was like throwing magnesium on an open fire. What else would you expect and if anything this record lives up to expectations and some more. 

There’s nothing timid about this record, as Jensen Interceptor and DeFekt deliver with a blistering sound that is centred around big kicks and piercing acid refrains. Even at low volumes, it’s an oppressive sound, the sound of armageddon descending down you, and you just want to grin and bear it. 

Through raspy synthesisers and derisive drum machines, the production duo delivers a sound big enough to swallow a town, pummeling the listener into a subservient dancer. 

 

Downstairs J – Too (SUZI) 12″ 

 

This is another one of those space-saving records… a track for every occasion.  While “Mana 4000” and “Orion” do the heavy lifting on the dance floor, “Soothsayer” and “Symbioses” offer moments of serene reflection, skirting ambient realms through broken beats.

There’s some nostalgic reverence for the likes of Carl Craig during the early nineties, those times where a record could be anything, a House record, a Breakbeat record, and even Hip Hop if you’re with the right crowd. The soundscapes echo the sentiment with immersive sounds that intrigue in their unusual metallic guise while the bass moves in large swells that reflect modern technologies. 

At its most captivating, it’s the slower tracks on Too that really stands out, but it’s only for their deference to what is already a brilliant record from Downstairs J.

Country girl: A Q&A with Kristin Velvet

Imagine a line-up including Kerri Chandler, Honey Dijon and Carl Craig, all on the same night. Even in our wildest dreams at Jaeger, we’ve only managed to showcase these amazing talents one at a time. So, consider the triptych of DJ legends, with Kerri Chandler being the opener! Now imagine this is your introduction to a nightclub.

This was the case for Kristin Velvet when she first set foot in Watergate. It’s no surprise she immediately fell in love with the place. Today, that introduction has blossomed into a residency, where she’ll regularly feature on Watergate lineups and often alongside legends of that ilk.  

Kristin Velvet is a DJ, producer and label owner with some well-traveled credentials. From her origins in rural Australia, her start as a DJ in Tokyo, to playing in London, and her eventual relocation to Berlin, Kristin Velvet has channeled an extensive musical experience through what she does as a DJ, a producer and record label head.

Taking care of the daily activities at Arms and Legs, a label she runs alongside founders Daniel Steinberg and Nils Ohrmann, Kristin Velvet has carved out an incredible career, going from the “euphoric” House of her youth to playing groove-focussed House for peak time, often featuring mostly music from her label. She is a frequent contributor to Arms & Legs too, making important contributions, like the P-Funk sampling, dancefloor monster “The undertaker” or the 90’s House delight that is “It’s a game”, when she is not working alongside legends like Felix Da Housecat or being remixed by others like Paul Johnson.  

It was in fact her daily activities as a label head that she got her foot, followed by some Arms and Legs, in the door at Watergate, making her debut with a special label showcase featuring none-other than Paul Johnson. That was in 2017 and now Kristin Velvet is an integral part of the Watergate roster, often representing them in visiting showcases. With the Berlin institution celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, she has secured another seat on the tour bus, and as she and Kid Simius make their way to Jaeger this Saturday, we sent over some urgent questions to Kristin.

She talks about her rural upbringing, how she found dance music, her time in Tokyo and her relationship with Watergate in this Q&A session ahead of her appearance at Jaeger this weekend.

Tickets via @ticketco

20 years of Watergate! That’s a momentous occasion. Do you remember how you became aware of the Berlin clubbing institution?

Momentous indeed! So around 2007, I was living in London, there was a lot of Berlin hype at the time. My friends from WetYourself played at Watergate and all our crew went over for it. I remember it clearly because I couldn’t go, but everyone was raving about how great Watergate was. I dreamed of going there one day. My heart still bursts when DJs from other countries play at Watergate and their pals all come to Berlin for the occasion, it’s a vibe. 

Why do you think its legacy has endured the way it has? 

It’s the team people who make the place, the culture, and the legacy. You can have the best venue, best location, the best sound system, and the best DJs but without a good solid team the club is not going to work, or maybe for a short while but not for 20 years! Shout outs to all the people working behind the scenes week in week out who bring these spaces we love so much into existence. 

Its reputation precedes it. It was the first kind of super club I was familiar with before I even came to Europe and I guess you might have had a similar experience coming from Australia. Why do you think it’s had such a far-reaching appeal?

Word of mouth. DJs and dancers from all over the world come to Berlin, have amazing experiences, and go back home and tell their mates. 

Arriving in Berlin, what was your first encounter with the club

To be honest I can’t remember my first encounter, those early Berlin clubbing years are a bit of a blur, but I do remember the first time Watergate left a deep impression on me; it was Jerome Sydenham’s 50th birthday. I arrived at the club just before it opened and Kerri Chandler was warming things up on the Waterfloor, then we headed up to the main floor where Honey Dijon was busting it out, followed by Carl Craig who played on of the best sets I’ve ever heard, then back downstairs to hear Dennis Ferrer in full flight. Everyone was on fire that night, Jerome had lots of his friends and family there, people were jumping on the mic, hugging in the DJ booth, it was such an amazing vibe. I was so inspired after that night I sent an email to the booker, which led to me eventually becoming a resident…. 

How did you end up becoming a resident there?

Around 2017 Paul Johnson did a remix for Daniel Steinberg on our label Arms & Legs, so I wrote to the booker at Watergate (after Jerome Sydenham’s 50th) to see if we could do an Arms & Legs label night together with Paul. The booker didn’t write back for 3 months or so, but then out of the blue and much to my delight, he did! It was such a huge thrill to hear Paul play. Shortly after that Eats Everything and Maya Jane Coles both booked me for their nights at Watergate, then we did another Arms & Legs label night together with Felix Da Housecat. At this point, I was playing at the club almost every month, so the agency invited me into the office for a coffee and asked if I wanted to join the agency. It happened very organically. 

You’re on the lineup often, and with a varied selection of guests. How do you approach each event and what remains central to it all when you play at Watergate?

Every time I get booked at Watergate it’s still a huge honor and not something I ever take for granted. I approach each event thinking about how I can give the ravers the best possible experience, so they leave the club with wonderful memories and big smiles. 

What’s the prevalent charm of playing at Watergate, and what do you think you can do there as a resident that you can’t really get away with at other places?

I think you can get away with whatever you want wherever you want if you do it with conviction! As a resident though it’s a privilege to be familiar with the sound system and the space which comes in handy for testing new unreleased tracks. 

How do you present that to a new audience when you do these kinds of Watergate tours?

I love doing the Watergate showcases because I genuinely adore all the other residents, we thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and I think the people in the club feel that. We differ quite a lot musically which is great, it makes for an interesting and varied night of music.

There’s also these other aspects to you… Kristin Velvet, the artist and the label head. How do all these things fold into what you do as a DJ?

It all works together – the music, the label and then of course the DJing. The majority of what I play in the club is our Arms & Legs releases. 

I’ve read that you grew up in rural Australia, and it was country music that first got you dancing, but it was your time in Sydney that introduced you to clubbing. What was the music that specifically bridged those two worlds for you?

The bridge was house music, Armand Van Helden, Ultra Nate, Soulseacher, Phats & Small, Mousse T, Black Legend, I had just started sneaking into clubs, it was euphoric feel-good music and very accessible even to a country girl like me.

I imagine like for most of us, it started on the dance floor. What eventually led to Djing?

I started DJing when I lived in Tokyo. I became friends with the people who were running club nights there, which led to me DJing and eventually doing my own events. It was a very inclusive community, everyone played at each other’s nights it was lots of fun.

What were you playing at the beginning and how did it evolve from there?

Back then in Tokyo it was very different, I played everything from The Rapture, Le Tigre and LCD Soundsystem to The B-52’s, Daft Punk, Violent Femmes and Whitney Houston. It wasn’t until I moved to London around 2006 that my tastes started to change. 

Tell me a bit more about Tokyo. I simply love the record- and music culture there. Did you pick up anything specific to your time there that has followed you as a DJ?

Tokyo blew my mind. I worked in Shimokitazawa which had incredible record stores, it was a long time ago though so I wouldn’t say musically there was anything that stayed with me from back then. 

From Australia to Tokyo and then Berlin, what was the thing in Berlin that set it all apart for you, that thing that makes it such a special place for nightlife and club-culture?

The history, the culture, the lack of rules and the long opening hours. 

Yes, in Berlin the nights are pretty long, compared to somewhere like Sydney or Oslo. How would  you adapt your sets, for these shorter nights?

I’ll just pack the bangers! Kidding… it depends on the set time, the crowd and on so many factors. 

This is a return visit to Jaeger. What did you pick up from the last one that will affect the way your set might go?

I’m so thrilled to be back, I had such a blast last time. Honestly one of my favorite DJ booths I’ve ever played in. This time I’ll use your incredible rotary mixer. The sound is so warm! 

And how will Watergate and that celebration hopefully be reflected in your mix? 

I have a track coming out on the Watergate 20 years compilation album which is set for release in November, so I’ll probably give that one a spin.

Primal frequencies with Kid Simius

Kid Simius stands out in the current electronic dance music landscape. Performing live in the type of context others would DJ and channelling a flair for the balearic through the stark minimalist textures of Berlin Kid Simius is an anomaly on an international scene. 

Kid Simius is José Antonio Garcia Soler. Born in Granada, Spain and residing in Berlin, Germany, he operates in the no-man’s-land between those very distinct worlds with music that travels from DJ Alfredo to Modelsektor on its own unique path. He’s been releasing records since 2012, mostly on his own Jirafa Records, but he’s been playing live longer still. 

Although his chosen moniker might allude to something primal, it’s only in the way it works alongside the cerebral. Known as something of a synth wizard in music industry circles, he’s performed on- and contributed to chart-topping success stories, and when he’s not behind a set of keys, he’s behind a set of decks. As Kid Simius he programmes “unorthodox beats” between  a fusion of electronic and organic sounds that move from the dance floor to a spotify playlist.

Stretching across his output, are individual pieces which can go from the dub-step infused noise of a track like “King of Rock n Roll” to a bubbling, cut-n-paste House EP like Chicken Mango. Likewise his albums have gone from the digital  surfer-rock of his first LP Wet Sounds to the galaxian Disco of his second LP Planet Of The Simius, all offering a different perspective from his vast musical lexicon. There is no musical genre or style that uniquely defines him and yet the fluid movement between his records are expertely honed into a distinct voice that emerges through his live performances.

From festival stages to cosy clubs, and even a toilet, Kid Simius’ live shows pack a punch, utilising a formidable array of synthesisers, drum machines and computers to deliver striking shows, both sonically and visually. 

As a resident of Berlin’s famous Watergate club and he has been installed in one of the elite clubbing institutions in the world, and as he and they make their way to Jaeger next week for the official Watergate 20 celebrations, we caught with José to find out more about his music and his live show. 

He talks about the year he spent in Oslo, his life at Watergate, his music, his live show and how he came to be where he is today in this extensive Q&A session. 

Hello José. I think the burning question is; What is your relationship with Watergate and what significance is there to 20 years of the club for you personally?

My relationship with Watergate started in 2005 when I saw a documentary about the Berlin scene called Berlin Digital in which the club was featured.

Then the first time I went to Berlin my German friends took me there and I had an amazing time. It was amazing to be 19 years old and after watching so many documentaries about electronic music in Berlin, listening to the label’s releases and suddenly being there and being able to experience it in first person was great.

Watergate is an incredible label, their compilations are legendary, the DJs, the club everything, and to be able to stay at that level for so many years shows what a great job these people do.

I joined Watergate when my agent Max joined the agency. From the first moment they have made me feel at home and are giving me a lot of support, they accept me as an artist just as I am and that shows that not only professionally but in the human aspect they are excellent people. 

It’s certainly one of those iconic venues today. What in your opinion makes it so special?

The two dance floors are amazing, the big one with the LEDs and the small one with the river views, it is a super nice place and incomparable with other clubs. Then the bookings they do in the club are very diverse, so I always find DJs that I like that I want to see, they are very focused on having a good balance between known people and being open for new talents.

You’re no stranger to Oslo either, I believe. Tell us a bit more about that? 

I lived in Oslo one year from 2007-2008 when I was studying psychology and I used to hand out Flyers and stick posters in the street for The Villa in exchange for a Guest List.

At the end of the year they let me perform in the small room, I still have photos of it, I enjoyed it so much. It was an amazing time and I got to see a lot of Great DJs at The Villa.

I remembered I contacted them via my space and sent a couple of sets and demos of my tracks. They replied that they had a dj from Barcelona playing next weekend and that he didn’t speak English very well and that if I wanted to have dinner with him before the show and take care of him a little bit during the night. So I started, I just wanted to be there and help out.

Kid Simius performing at Villa

Do any of those great DJs stick out in your mind now?

Yes of course, I saw Modeselektor, Diplo, DJ Koze local heroes like Ost & Kjex

So it be safe to say you have something of a home advantage when playing here. Do you think it will influence the way your live set will go?

Well it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Oslo so many people I had contact with no longer live there. I don’t know how it will influence my show to be honest, what I do know is that it will be a super special show for me and I will be super nervous and excited because Oslo and The Villa were extremely important in my development as an artist. The year I lived there was a super inspiring and very influential year for my future.

My neighbour at that time was from Berlin, we became friends and later through him I moved to Berlin. In Berlin he took care of me a lot and today he is not only one of my best friends but also my manager.We are super proud of the amazing things we have experienced in the last years and it all started in Oslo, in a place called Kringsjå.

You grew up in Granada, Spain. Can you tell us a bit about the area and the musical sounds of the region?

Granada is immense. It’s crazy for the things that have happened there. Many cultures have lived together for many thousands of years and that is what makes it a super attractive city.

That’s why artists like Leonard Cohen, Joe Strummer, Lou Reed or Patti Smith were fascinated by the city and its culture. 

Musically, although it has often lacked a lot of support from public organisations with respect to clubs, studios, rehearsal spaces or festivals, the amount of musicians and artists that coexist in it make it super special. There are always new bands, new artists, new collectives, new djs, it is a very young city. Musically it’s very eclectic, something between flamenco, indie rock, techno and break beat…hahahah

At what point did electronic music enter your life, and what were the bands/producers/DJs/genres that informed your earliest listening adventures through electronic music?

For me there were several key moments, to name one was my visit to the FIB in 2005, I think I was 17 years old and coming from a small town where not many bands came to play suddenly going to a festival like this marked me completely.

I always bought on cd, the compilations of that festival, when I got to the festival I told my friends, someday I will play here, my friends laughed but 10 years later I got it. Sometimes when they ask me about my musical influences I say, the line up of FIB 2005 is my musical influence.

To name some of the artists that played at that festival: Pan Sonic, Mouse on Mars, LCD Soundsystem, Ladytron, Underworld, Basement Jaxx, Milo Nick Cave, Oasis, Andrew Weatherall, Four Tet ….

How has Berlin informed you as an artist?

Berlin is a crazy city, things are happening all the time, the amount of new artists, new clubs etc. is incomparable with other cities, the freedom that exists is beastly and obviously to make electronic music there is no better city, also compared to other European capitals it is still not so expensive and that makes it a very comfortable place for artists.

The only bad thing for me coming from the south is the winter and that it gets dark very early but well you know that here in Oslo.

What significance does the name Kid Simius have?

The name came to me in less than a minute and I never thought it was going to be something serious. At the time of myspace me and my friends made an account as a collective and when we had to put the artistic names of each one, I was the youngest of all of us by far, so I was the kid and I have a lot of hair on my body and didn’t like the word “monkey” so I chose “simius” which is “monkey” in latin… and all of that in less than 30 seconds. That’s about it.

Back in 2012, you were involved in a song with some commercial success called Lila Wolken. What effect did that moment have on you as Kid Simius if any?

It’s complicated to measure the impact it had for the kid simius project since I wasn’t the main artist and only the composer, I guess the people in the scene and the industry knew who was involved in the song, but that’s all, I just kept my way.

It was, anyway a very nice experience in somehow, I was very young and I don’t know, suddenly you make a beat, you send it to some friends, they write a song, it comes out and suddenly it’s number one in the single charts, double platinum, you hear it on TV, on the radio, everywhere…and you think wtf 

It’s very different from anything you make today. When you reflect on it, how does it fit into the Kid Simius universe?

Well, to be honest, I’ve tried to do what I like at all times, I’m super eclectic and I don’t like to pigeonhole myself with anything. I always like to have fun in the studio and have a good time.

Sometimes I see my tracks as if they were photos of a certain moment in my life and they remind me of that time. Once I read something like “ if Yamaha can make pianos and motorbikes at the same time , I can make jazz, techno and grime, don’t label the music, let the music just be music”.

Would it be safe to assume that there was a shift in your approach/sound around your solo record, your LP “Planet of Simius,” and what inspired this new direction/evolution?

Yes well, I am constantly inspired by many things, especially moments, the beginnings of disco music, then house and techno are very beautiful moments in our recent history that have inspired me a lot.

Everyone no matter what colour they are, no matter what social status they have and no matter what clothes they have, all together on the same level dancing around the DJ.

The figure of the DJ surprising with new styles of music, mixing new things, Larry Levan Paradise Garage etc. etc. that inspired me a lot in that LP.

Also the idea of mixing different styles of music together was very attractive for me.

There’s been more of a balearic nature to your music since. Perhaps that’s just me inferring, although I did read an interview where you mentioned DJ Alfredo. How has that sound influenced your records and your live show?

Well , DJ Alfredo represents the romantic way of electronic music, eclecticism, all together we are one ,freedom & hedonism. He didn’t produce so much music but his legacy as a dj is crazy.He inspired so many people, he is The Velvet Underground of the djs. I had the opportunity to interview him on my radio show and he is one of a kind.

O really, we have to hear it. And about the live show… What is it about playing live that particularly appeals to you, and why have you chosen to present your music in that way?

It’s like a way I have to express myself, sometimes as a teenager or young adult you don’t think why you make things, you just do it and you do it because you need to do it, because you need to express yourself and I guess for me to play live is one of the best ways I have to express myself since I am a young adult.

Is it about recreating the sounds of records like Chicken Mango?

Yes

Does playing the music live factor into your creative process when you sit down to start recording and/or music?

Sometimes yes sometimes not, I try not to be functional when I am making music and not think if im playing live I should do like this or that. But sometimes it influences me. The beauty for me of making music is that every time is different, sometimes starting with the guitar, or with the keys, other times it is programming a beat, other times is sampling something…

Most of your releases come through your own label, Jirafa Records. How do you compartmentalise the aspects of running the label from the creative pursuits of making music?

Here I have to say that we practically don’t release other artists on the label, it’s almost only to get my own music out and we only work when there is a release, the rest of the time it’s on stand by.

On the other hand I have my friend and manager Chris, who I met in Oslo who takes care of the communication with the distributor, pitching for Spotify etc. I am not doing it alone. What was a bit more work was to set up everything , like publishing code for the label , Bandcamp account, Soundcloud, insta, Facebook etc but once you are set up it’s ok.

We also use the label as a platform for other artist to release their dj mixes // podcast …basically I upload the mixes to our platform and then play the mixes on my radio show I have monthly on the German fm radio where I had artists like Octo Octa, DJ Tennis, Ellen Allien, Cinthie or Sofia Kourtesis.

Then again there must be a sense of creative freedom that you don’t get from releasing on other labels?

Well, at the beginning to be honest it was because it was difficult for me to find a label to release my music, I don’t do music on demand, first the music. The thing is when you release on another label , you send some tracks you have done, they pick the tracks they like and that’s the release.

When you have your own label you have to make this decision, too. You have to select your tracks ,on one hand its freedom because you choose what you release, but on the other hand sometimes it gets tough to decide things on your own the whole time.

I’ve noticed there are a few things happening on the record front for you this year, and you’re playing live often. It seems it’s a busy period for you. What’s been the inspiration behind it and what has it again inspired?

I just love to do different things the whole time and stay busy. The live set is for me a kind of a challenge of how I should play electronic music live. There are no rules on how you should play electronic music live, that’s why the amount of possibilities or stuff to do is unlimited.

Is there anything you’re super excited about coming up in the near future?

Yes, I´m super excited about my show at Jaeger !!!! I got a release coming out on the “20 years Watergate” compilation and now I’m working on a EP with Rhode & Brown coming out next year probably.

Will we hear any of it during your live show at Jaeger

Yes, 30% of my live set is unreleased stuff coming soon.

Normann & Ole HK present Helt Texas!

There’s nothing subtle about a Thursday night out. It takes commitment and a certain devil-may-care attitude to spend the precursor to the weekend on the dance floor. It’s a culture all on its own and over the last year we’ve seen it flourish into a night all onto its own. Music and mood with a predisposition for the unencumbered, it has established itself as one of the highlights on our week-day calendar in no small part to Normann & Ole HK. 

The DJ duo have become a fixture in Jaeger’s sauna over the last year, playing alongside Finnebassen during his residency at Jaeger. They’ve become known for their charismatic sets with a broad appeal that is able to unite a dance floor. As we bid farewell to Finnebassen, it was only natural that they would step into Thursdays and with some pretty big shoes to fill, they too are going big, as they bring their new concept Helt Texas! to Jaeger’s sauna in October.

Launching this Thursday, Helt Texas! consolidates all that experience Normann & Ole HK have garnered over the course of the last year, reconstituted as its own. It fosters the cult of Thursdays with a style of music and a mood that they’ve mastered in their short tenure here already as they seek to develop it even further with guests that share their approach. As familiar fixtures on this scene, both in the booth and beyond, they’ve amassed a significant collection of friends and together they will call in a new era for Thursdays with  Helt Texas!

As Normann and Ole HK take the helm this week, we sent out some questions to ask about Helt Texas! and what the significance of the new night from the DJ’s perspective. They might be a bit hazy on how they met, but they are clear on their new concept and what they look to establish for Thursdays at Jaeger. 

So Helt Texas! There’s certainly no mistaking the vibe of the night based on the name, but what does it reflect in terms of music?

Normann: Who knows? I don’t think we know ourselves… but expect a lot of groove and energy. We might end up playing slow and steady, but we can also end on 30 trance, soo.. I know – Helt Texas!

Ole HK:  For me the name of the concept is more about seeing our Thursdays at Jaeger in a bigger picture than only the music. We want it to be “Helt Texas” in the way that the backyard is packed with the best people we know and where you can go mental to the best underground music 

You guys have been doing these Thursday nights for a while, often stepping in for Finnebassen, so what does it mean for you and the night as you officially baptise it?

Ole HK: First, I have to give Finn a big big big shout out and say thank you for that he invited me to be a part of his “Finnebassen Thursdays crew”. For me as an up and coming DJ it was pretty huge to be invited into his DJ stable. He showed me so much music and gave me so much inspiration over the last years that I will be forever grateful for what that talented man has given to me and my DJ career. So the fact that me and Edvard are taking over the Thursdays  is pretty huge and something I’m really proud of. We have been playing every second Thursday this summer so I feel the backyard is in safe hands, so for now it’s all about counting days to kickstart our “Helt Texas” concept 6th October!!! Can’t wait! 

Normann: Yes, It means a lot! Both of us have played, both at Jaeger and other places for years, but to have a concept of our own is a dream come true! Jaeger is by far one of our favourite places to play, and to be able to have a residency here is great. The soundsystem, the mixer and of course the people here are just amazing!

Can you give us the musical direction of the night in a couple of words?

Ole HK: Couple of words? Impossible. Come check out instead! We’ll not disappoint

Normann: As mentioned we don’t have a really specific sound, but what I think will be common for our nights musically is firm and steady grooves. Probably a bit darker than straight up disco, but hey expect the unexpected; sometimes it will be as pure disco nights.

Ole HK: Often when we start our Thursdays we build it up from some funky/oriental 105 bpm stuff and finish it with some banging house/techno around 126-128 bpm. We love it like we love all kinds of genres and tempo in electronic music. 

You appear to be very busy, playing at least twice a week, alone and together and at different places. How does what you plan on doing with this night differ from what you’ll do at these other places?

Ole HK: Yes I’m playing every week around town, but it’s not that often where I’m playing a club gig from 22:00 until closing 03:00 actually. So the fact that we have five hours all alone to build and create our musical story is kind of special with the night. 

Normann: In terms of music it’s hard to say how it will differ, but because Jaeger is such a unique place with a certain vibe it will for sure be one of the highlights during the week (at least in my opinion). It’s a free space where everyone is different, but at the same time alike in many ways. Of course we will play a lot of music that we know people in general like, but we will also try to “educate” people by playing things they didn’t know they liked. That’s what DJing is to me at least, and Jaeger is a place where this is possible.  

What do you bring out in each other when you’re in the booth together?

Ole HK: First of all it’s very easy to play with Edvard cause he is insanely good and talented. Edvard is a real musician, DJ and producer so he knows what he is doing. But to answer your question it’s always nice to be two on it. If I’m struggling a bit to find the right tracks or I’m in a “bad mood” we can discuss and help each other. Edvard has more experience so he can spice it up sometimes when I’m too focused on going safe and “pleasing the crowd”. Also after a year as b2b-partners we have been close friends so sharing moments and nights together is just awesome and more fun than doing it alone. I love Edvard as a DJ and partner, but also as a person and friend! 

Normann: I think we fulfil each other really well! And for the last year or so it has only gotten better. We don’t have to physically communicate, we just kind of know where the other one is. Even though  we have the same taste in music, it is not identical of course – but that’s a good thing I think. So hopefully we would be able to surprise you guys as much as we surprise each other. 

How did you guys meet?

Ole HK:  I met Edvard first time in 2018 at The Villa. He doesn’t remember that, haha, but I said hi to him and that I’ve heard him playing around and that I liked it. And to confirm what I said about him in the previous question he was so humble and kind and took his time to talk with me when I was the new guy in town who moved from the North of Norway. So in 2020 I started working as an event organiser and booking manager for DJs at a venue and nightclub called Pakkhuset. Edvard was of course one of the first guys I contacted and since then the relationship has been growing to be bigger and stronger every month.

Normann: I honestly don’t remember that night at The Villa, but if you say so! Haha.. But we started to play together during corona lockdown basically. Doing small sets/nights for friends and also some live streams. From there on we became great friends and now also partners in crime. 

In terms of music, where do your tastes converge?

Ole HK: Our taste is pretty similar of course, and we both like to mix in the same way. But I think the fact that we both love all kinds of music (not even just electronic music) makes our relationship very good and easy to work with. When we are together in the booth we can play, share and handle all types of electronic music, independent of genre and just enjoy each other. That’s so cool.

Normann: Our taste is similar, but also very different from time to time. Which is perhaps the main reason I think we go so well together. There is an individuality and personality there even though we play as one. 

How do you think it will be reflected in the guests you’ll be inviting to Helt Texas?

Ole HK: We want to have a mix of established and up and coming DJs. Like we have booked for the opening night of Helt Texas. Those two bookings are very representative of what we want and what we’re gonna book in the future.

Normann: Hopefully a lot of new and upcoming musicians with different styles, but also established and experienced people would be fun. There is so much talent in this city now, and especially women! Watch out – because they are reeeeally good!

Let’s talk about this first one. You’ve got Marcus Hitsøy and Henriku coming to inaugurate the night. What was the thought behind those guests and what do you hope to establish going forward?

Normann: They are great DJs and also pretty new to the scene. They really deserve to play in my opinion. I remember I first met Henriku when I moved to Berlin back in 2017. We immediately became friends because of our similar taste in music, and he continued to stay and evolve after I moved back home. Now also with his first release together with Alexander Skancke (which is dope). He is also a frequent DJ around in Berlin, so again a perfect fit for our opening night!

I think the opening night will be a good representation of what to expect in the future. It would be fun if these Thursdays turned into a hangout spot for people of any age with a passion for electronic music.    

Ole HK: Therefore Marcus Hitsøy and Henriku are the perfect booking for our opening party. Marcus is new to the scene and a really talented and passionate DJ. He is a part of the Sous-Vide label and have been playing groovy house and minimal a few times already in the backyard when they had their Sunday residency. Can’t wait to have him back. 

Yes Ole, I guess your relationship with Sous-Vide paved the way for this one too. 

Ole HK: Yes I really like the minimal groove and I was working and playing with Marcus in SVR. I saw how talented and passionate he is and Edvard knows Henrik, who also playa and produces the same style of electronic music – so then the line up of our opening party was complete! 

That’s all the questions I have for now. Anything you want to add?

Ole HK: Come to Jaeger 6th of October! It’s gonna be HELT TEXAS!!!!!!!!!!

A Ukrainian woman: Interview with Nastia

“What a way to end a set!” echoes through the crowd as the last remnants of an amen-breakbeat fade out. Nastia takes a reverent bow while the people in Jaeger’s basement press up against the booth, some of them still holding up phones, illuminated with the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Nothing she played alluded to any Ukrainian nationality, but there was an obvious and visible acknowledgement and you would have to have been living under a rock this past year, to avoid news of the ingoing war in Ukraine. I hear messages of support in English and what I assume is Nastia’s native-tongue, and while people file out of the basement as I’m reminded yet again of Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s iconic quote form Last Night a DJ saved my life; “Dancing is political, stupid!”

It’s a quote I was eager to bring up when I sat down with Nastia earlier that day in the hotel lobby. Did it resonate with the Ukrainian DJ under the circumstances? “To be honest I don’t have an answer to this question,” she considers for a moment, “because the opinion is so big and there are so many sides to it.“ Even so, she can’t seem to draw a definitive line in the sand for politics, because in her opinion “we’re all dependent on it!” It’s “pure ignorance,” she pressed to propagate a “message that music is out of politics.” 

Nastia’s fortitude and resilience in the face of the terrible atrocities facing her homeland has been an inspiration to witness. She has been a vocal critic since the war erupted with Russian troops invading Ukraine and continues to show a determined front under what I can only assume to be difficult personal circumstances. 

“It’s a hard situation for everybody,” she remarks ”not just for me and I still believe I’m one of the lucky ones.” Even though Nastia and her daughter are technically refugees, they’re not dependent on their refugee status and have declined the help of foreign governments. While other women in the same situation rely on international aid, Nastia and her daughter want for nothing. I’m super lucky to be an international artist,” she admits with her language skills and experiences as a well-travelled artist giving her an advantage over most. 

She currently resides in Amsterdam. The “cute and cosy” Dutch capital was the “only city” she considered when she had to relocate. Its accessibility to an international DJ circuit and its central location within Europe had a big influence on her decision, but I doubt it has given her any respite from being away from her home in Kyiv and the family and friends she left behind. 

At the time of writing her daughter will be enrolled in a boarding school in the UK, and with her daughter’s father returning to the front-line after recovering from injuries sustained on his last tour, Nastia’s family is currently spread across Europe while she continues to work, travelling around the globe. I can’t imagine this is easy for the DJ. “Why?” she replies. “I have to be an example,” she says flatly. “I truly believe I have a purpose. I have a responsibility.” It’s the nature of “being a Ukrainian woman; We don’t wait for help.“ 

It’s that very same resolution that propelled Nastia forward on the 24th of February 2022, when she woke up to the news of the Russian invasion. She packed her car with her daughter and drove to the Polish border. “We were supposed to fly to Turin,” she remembers, but  “the war arrived earlier” than expected, closing the airport on the day of their proposed flight. Nastia had two options; take the train or drive. She chose to drive, thinking it would be safer and  “more independent,” but having never driven across a border she admits she “was not prepared.” She “left, with a half empty bag, because I couldn’t understand what I needed at the moment,” and stressed continuously about whether she had the correct documents to get across. After twenty four hours of driving, most of which was stuck in long queues at the border and between borders, she and her daughter finally made it safely across the border. It was a harrowing ordeal even with the “incredible” job by the Polish border. 

Unlike the Polish border and much like Nastia, most of Ukraine was blindsided by the news of the Russian invasion. “Nobody knew,” the war was coming , because in Ukraine they had kept news of Russia’s advancing forces scant. “They were keeping it till the end, because they didn’t want people to panic,“ explains Nastia.  She and most of Kyiv were having “a normal day,” and “personally” she, like most of us watching events unfold remotely, “didn’t believe it” would ever happen. We were all, except perhaps for the American politicians, taken by surprise. 

We were all under the impression that a relative peace had reigned in the region after a tumultuous decade. We saw the uprising of the Maidan revolution as the start of a political revolution for the  country, one that would be sadly bookended by the eventual annexation of Crimea by Russian forces by 2014. It seemed a compromise was reached, but unbeknownst to most, tensions continued to simmer. 

From Russia’s point of view the situation was exasperated at the arrival of pro-European/pro-west leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The ex-actor/comedian was elected in 2019, with huge public support rallying behind his efforts after the 2014 revolution. It seemed that the people finally had their man,  but with Russia’s Vladimir Putin proclaiming a “nazi” force was at work in the Ukrainian capital, it didn’t go down so well in the east of the region.

“Before the revolution in 2014,” explains Nastia, “he (Putin) was sure (Ukraine) was going to be a Russian country like Belarus,” kowtowing to Russian trade agreements and political demands. When Ukraine’s people lead by Zelenskiy, “took the direction towards a European union” and refused “to join Russia in a trade agreement” this was the straw the camel’s back for Putin, who insisted now that he wanted to “denazify” Ukraine in what he deemed a “special military operation.”

That, now familiar rhetoric, “is just one man and a toxic propaganda,” according to Nastia. It’s no secret she has been a staunch supporter of Zelenskiy and his efforts. She voted for Zelenskiy and is in favour of a European Union. She believes in a free Ukraine, not some soviet hinterland smothered in the tight grip of Putin’s fist. “If this had been Poroshenko,” Ukraine’s previous president, she continues, “he would’ve given away Ukraine.” Even while Poroshenko formed the first government after the 2014 revolution, Nastia is certain it took Zelenskiy’s resolution to free Ukraine from Russia’s nostalgic fever dream of a reunited USSR. “There is no other politician in Ukraine that would’ve defended Ukraine like Zelenskiy,” she insists.

Images of the resilient president, dressed in fatigues like a live-action G.I Joe, cut a determined image at the outbreak of the war and continues to do so in the media today. The young president refused to flee his country even at the insistence of his foreign counterparts, a stark contrast to Putin, hiding away in his “humble” abode. As fighting intensified, driving Russian troops eastward, his fortitude inspired a nation and a whole European continent for Nastia. “European leaders believed that Ukraine could win, and they started to help,” she believes. “Most of the people didn’t accept Zelenskiy as a serious president and it was only when the war started,” that the public opinion shifted.

Unfortunately, this public opinion didn’t seem to reach the Russian people. In what she believes is one the “most shocking” developments in this war, Nastia says it has “completely” broken down the relationship between Ukrainian- and the Russian citizens. “We felt that we were on the same page,“ but after the war broke out “we clearly saw it was not like that.” Part propaganda, part ignorance and part misremembered history, have skewed the Russian narrative on the situation. Nastia thinks there’s “no way back” in mending these broken fences with her neighbours and in some sense her fellow countrymen.

Born in Fabrychne, a small village rubbing shoulders with the Russian border in the Luhansk region, Nastia was born into a Russian speaking family. For all intents and purposes she might have been Russian, depending on your perspective at that time. Nastia spent her formative years in this “poor” village, making regular trips to the closest big city, Donetsk. Her sisters had established residence there and when Nastia finished her schooling, she moved to the city to pursue a tertiary education at the University of Donetsk’s Marketing faculty. It’s then she starts dancing “in the best club” in the city, setting off on a path toward her eventual career as an internationally acclaimed DJ.

Today, her father remains in Luhansk, and her sisters have been living in Donetsk and Crimea respectively, all places currently under Russian control. I’m curious what people like her father and her sisters make of the situation. “My father is absolutely out of the whole thing,” she answers. “He’s an ignorant pacifist.” Nastia understands, but doesn’t defend, the 65-year-old’s position, refraining from dragging up politics when they talk, but I sense there’s frustration there that we’re all currently feeling with that generation. It’s different with her sisters though. “My older sister, of course she sees things, but she can’t do anything, and she’s accepted the conditions she has to live in. She doesn’t think it’s black and white, she believes there’s fault on both sides.” And what of the middle sister that has been in Crimea since before the 2014 revolution? While Nastia believes, “Crimea became a better place,” in terms of infrastructure, she concurrently believes it has robbed the region of an independent will. 

A holiday destination to Russians and Ukrainians alike, Crimea has always relied on the enterprise of its citizens to take advantage of seasonal business. With the arrival of the Russians, this has taken the agency away from the Crimeans, and has dwindled the opportunity for new businesses to thrive. “The roads, the kindergartens and the renovations, don’t compensate for the quality of life of the people,” insists Nastia. “You have to live your life independently,” and since the Russian occupation, independence has been a distant reality in the scope of the faux-socialist dogma of the oligarchs. 

This is perhaps why there has been a lot more resistance coming from Kyiv than these regions according to Nastia. “I think it’s all about education.” Growing up in the Luhansk region, she’s witnessed many who have fallen victim to the “poor” mentality that these rural regions encourage. “If you were able, like me, to move away from the small village to the capital,” clarifies Nastia, “then you have something in your mind; you have ideas, knowledge and skills, it makes you stronger.” Other “people that were born and going to die in the same village” don’t have that perspective and Nastia suggests that they have become “slaves” to their own limitations, and thus Russian demands.

It will take more people like Nastia, who although born in a Russian-speaking family,  “identifies as Ukrainian.” It might just be a “state of mind” for most, but in Nastia’s case, that state of mind has given her purpose in what she does as a DJ, a label owner, and event organiser today. It extends from her work in the booth to her own charitable foundation, which raises money for children’s hospitals and animal shelters in Ukraine. Her Nechto nights and record label have become something of a platform for these fundraising efforts and from every set she plays, she has been able to direct some of her personal earnings to the cause, significantly funnelled into the military effort of her homeland.

“Every gig is a challenge” however. The “hardest thing” has been “to focus on the music” while the war rages on, she understandably admits.  She”checks the music news much less” while  her inbox continues to fill with unopened demos. “I’m not ready for that. It invests so much effort.” She still experiences “heart-attacks” before taking to the booth, and was taking prescribed anxiety medication from the onset of the war up until August. Yet she perseveres calling it her “purpose” at the moment. Besides the label Nechto, releasing records from Ukrainian artists, she is also aiding Ukrainian DJs and artists in their quest for visas and temporary discharges from the Ukrainian military (“most of them are men”) to play in Europe. 

She goes back to Kiyv at least once a month for the moment, and notices while there’s still a tension in the air, there’s also been “a lot of discussion about how to live: “Shall I feel guilty that I’m trying to live the life I’ve had before the war, while other people are dying on the frontline. Some people figure that we can not go out, go to the party, or go to the restaurant because people are dying in the front. But other people are saying that yes but they are dying for us. We need to live so that their efforts are not (in vain).

Either way, there haven’t been that many electronic music events cropping up in the city “because of the curfew,” but there have been some cultural events, keeping up the spirits of the population. Nastia has feigned to create any events in the city herself, believing that “you have to be part of the scene” to do anything there. She hopes to eventually see an echo of what happened after the 2014 revolution when “we came back to parties in the summer and the scene went to another level,” but is reluctant to get her hopes up just yet. “I don’t see an end,” she says in a discouraging tone. “I don’t think anybody else has an idea of how or when it’s going to finish, even Putin.”

If it were up to the people on the dance floor in Jaeger’s basement on that evening, this war would already be over. Nobody else seems to want it either, except one man and the sycophantic yes-men that surround him. The only hope we have is that something befalls the Russian leader, but as Nastia so eloquently put it; “the war doesn’t only depend on him.” 

As Nastia’s set came to an end, she was smiling in response to the audience. Eeking across 140BPM, her set was built on a sense of groove that often belies those tempos. The people on the night responded in kind, whooping at quieter intermissions, and always ready with a cheer when she transitions into something familiar. There’s respect and familiarity involved in the turnout and their appreciation, but one can’t simply dismiss the extenuating factors of a war in Ukraine in this situation, especially when people are visibly waving Ukrainian flags. Even as the media’s coverage wanes and a world view turns more apathetic, it seems that people are still here and still willing to make a stand; even if it’s just for a few hours on the dance floor. 

Words: Mischa Mathys

Photos: Johannes Krogh

My best shot with Johannes Krogh

You might not recognise Johannes Krogh. Most of the evenings he spent at Jaeger, his face was obscured by a camera lens. He has been our photographer in residence for the last six months and from SPF.DJ to Nastia, he’s been there to capture the moments leaving physical documents of fleeting and hazy memories for us to pour over for future times. 

There’s an obvious voyeurism associated with photography; a mechanical eye winking at you from somewhere in the dark. In club culture it is often met with protest, considering the nature of the scene. Yet, photography in clubs has been there since the dawn of the counterculture with images telling a story of a time, a place and a scene that words simply can’t reflect. Celluloid memories, often frozen in black and white are some of the only insights we have to forgotten scenes today.

It’s that documentary approach that feeds Jaeger’s desire to have a photographer present on some nights. Only some nights however, because other nights are better left as mere memory, special only to the people that were there and experienced the event in person. For those nights we wanted to document, it was Johannes Krogh behind the lens. 

As his tenure at Jaeger ends and we bid him farewell on a sabbatical in Brussels, we sit down with the young photographer, DJ and aspiring architect to look through some of his favourite pictures from that time, and find out a little more about the method behind the lens. 

Photo of Boys Noise at Jaeger

This one just really captured the vibe that night. Pure joy in the audience and in the booth. The floor somehow felt 10 times larger than usual. I knew the second I took the pictures that it was all I needed that night.

 

Do you remember your first camera?

Yes, definitely. I received it as a present  for my confirmation. It’s one of those traditional gifts, I feel. It was a good gift. I didn’t really have any photography interests before that.

Do you remember the brand and model?

Pentax single lens reflex digital camera. It was nice and small. It was a decent camera. It was entry level and it felt kind of professional. You could swap out lenses and buy better stuff. It was a good beginner camera.

Did you garner an affinity for it quite quickly?

Yes, in terms of  how it works. How light travels and what you can get with different lenses; documenting stuff and getting good pictures.

What were you documenting at that stage?

Typical vacation stuff. I took a lot of pictures of my dog. To be honest, I have never felt comfortable taking pictures of people. It feels quite personal.

I started studying after high-school and then I did a lot of portrait photography. It always felt very intimate. If I’m taking pictures of people now, I’d prefer that they don’t know it, but that feels almost a bit creepy in a way. I’ve never wanted to approach people and ask to take their picture, I prefer a more fly on the wall approach. 

What did you study?

Media with an emphasis on graphic design. I was really drawn to the technical aspects of photography. I know some photographers that just see it as a tool, but I’m really fascinated in how a camera works. I got a really good sense of the technical aspects of photography, which I think is as exciting in a way. 

Photo of clubber at Jaeger

This one was was at spfdj in the basement. It was just so very techno

You’ve DJ’d as well and you’ve had some experience with photographing bands. Do you think that interest in music has an effect on what and how you photograph?

Yes, I think so. I like photography, but I’ll always use it to get into other hobbies as well. Doing the bands at festivals, it’s not because I’m really into photographing bands. It’s because I wanted to go to concerts. It’s a fun way of doing multiple hobbies at once. I’m into the music, the vibe, the people. 

I’ve noticed that most of the pictures we’ve gotten from you managed to capture that vibe. 

Yes, I like to partake and not just observe. I try to document it from the inside. 

What are your experiences of people in the club when they have a camera trained on them?

You get a really good sense early on of who doesn’t want to be photographed and who gravitates to the camera. It’s never been an issue. Most people that have had an issue with it, it’s been more about the principle; “like should you photograph on a Techno night?” I’ll avoid photographing those people. 

I guess, Jaeger being small, you’ll recognise the people and are able respect their wishes.

Yes. Usually the first hour or so, I’ll just go around and I don’t expect to get much. It’s just about getting comfortable and getting the people comfortable with me being around. 

We’ve only had one request to have a picture removed. 

Yes, I remember the picture, and she actually asked me to take her picture. (laughs) Some people might come up to me, and ask me not to take their picture before I even start, and that’s fine. It’s more important to show a vibe anyway than it is to show a face. 

What nights have been best for capturing that vibe?

It’s been different between upstairs and downstairs. I feel I have had some really great shots, on both the dark, heavy nights and really light fun nights. 

Do the new lights in the basement help?

Yes, definitely. There’s also the fact that for every thirty pictures I take in the basement, there’s one good one. You have to almost be lucky, because the flashes are so quick. You have to either time it perfectly or have a long shutter, but then it gets  blurry, but that can also be the vibe. You can see people moving. It’s really hard when you freeze people, to show the movement. Especially when you use a flash, it gets very static and frozen. 

Photo from Jaeger

I like because it shows the variety in the Jæger type. All kinds of people united on the dancefloor.

Do you have any nights that stand out in your memory?

When it’s packed it’s obviously a good vibe, but it can be really hard to capture, because it’s almost impossible to move and get a good perspective. Sometimes it’s about having a group  of people that are really comfortable and dancing, but maybe not too packed. 

Some of the Techno nights have been good, because people can often be introverted and shy, so people give each other enough space.

As a fan of the music, do you ever get the chance to enjoy the night?

Yes, maybe an hour in the beginning, then I would do some intense photography and get all the angles. If I feel I have enough good material, I can just enjoy the rest of the night. I really liked the first night when SPF.DJ played. Maybe it was a personal experience, and I feel that I got really into the crowd, because they were all kind of skeptical in the beginning. 

People came up to me and asked if it was morally ok to be taking pictures on that particular night. Later, those very same people were asking me to have their picture taken. 

I guess their moral fortitude dwindles as a night progresses?

Yeah, I guess so. (laughs)

In safe hands – Profile on Mano Le Tough

“Thanks to Mano Le Tough I’m not afraid (for) the future of house music.” That’s what Âme and Innervisions’ Kristian Beyer reckoned back in 2012 when the Guardian asked him to peer into his musical crystal ball. Beyer and Innervisions cohort, Dixon had been staunch supporters of Mano Le Tough’s (Niall Mannion) music, his tracks regularly making an appearance in their DJ sets. The Irish producer and DJ had become a sought-after presence in some of Europe’s most lauded DJ booths, and while the Innervisions confirmation was welcomed, Mano Le Tough’s career hardly needed the reinforcement, even then. ou don’t become a meme without having some clout on the scene, after all.

By the time Beyer’s quote surfaced, it’s fair to say Mano Le Tough had already established himself, forging a distinctive path as a DJ and artist, putting him in that upper echelon where the kind of people cheering him on resided. “2012 is when things really started to speed up, when I started doing over 100 gigs a year, and released my first album,” he confirmed in The Irish Times. It was year zero in becoming a household name, but he wasn’t exactly an overnight success either. 

Growing up in Ireland, we don’t know much about Niall Mannion’s life before Mano Le Tough. Bits from interviews suggested he was a quizzical music fan, but with early influences like Radiohead being referenced and the fact that he had “been in bands” when he was younger, it seems Mannion was more at ease with a guitar than a synthesiser during his formative years. At some point the switch to electronic music must have happened because by 2007, he had garnered a following on Myspace and made the move to the electronic music capital, Berlin. 

Mano Le Tough in the studio

“It was fairly meagre when I first got to Berlin,” Mannion told The Irish Times, reflecting on that time. “I was working in an Irish pub, actually a couple of different pubs, and running small parties with friends.” Earning his chops in what would have been a very busy and competitive Berlin scene at the time, he put in his time as Mano Le Tough and  his efforts were soon rewarded. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t determined,” he told XLR8R during an interview a while back. “Chasing the dream” during this period, there were a couple of key events that set him on the trajectory. 

Going to Red Bull Music Academy in 2010 was “one of the most impor