Somewhere between the stage and the dance floor a musical entity exists that is constantly striving to narrow that divide where the inconsistencies of these worlds cease to exist. That musical entity is Svømmebasseng; a band whose disco-infused synth music is made from the same stuff that pulses through any club floor, channeled through a group of dedicated musicians to form a congruous relationship between the entertaining, the functional and the visceral. When they are not on the stage they are at the decks for their club-informed Svømmebasseng events, introducing their audiences to the music, and the artists that have caught their collective ears.
Laurence Guy is such an artist; a House producer born and bred in the cauldron of one of the world’s foremost clubbing scenes, London. Guy’s music favours a melodic charm built around the purpose of the dance floor, and something that speaks to Svømmebasseng’s personal musical tastes. Through the Church label – whose residencies at Corsica studios is a modern bastion for London’s clubbing scene – Laurence has cultivated a sound all onto his own. Finding a foundation in the deeper waters of House music and manipulating a sense feeling around a beat that very much has it’s roots in the UK, he has established himself as a rising musical talent over the last few years, finding the ear of people like Fort Romeau in the process, whose Cin Cin label released “Ubik” and “One for you, Lou” earlier this year.
It was an exceptional year too for Svømmebasseng, who also released their acclaimed ”Bli med” EP as an appetizer before their sophomore album hits the shelves next year. They’ll be wrapping up the year with Laurence in our basement for the “Svømmebasseng presenterer” event during Romjulsfestivalen, which gave us cause for a chat. We dialed up Laurence in the UK and Philip Lindberg from Svømmebasseng in Bergen to find out a little more where these two musical entities find a common ground.
Hi Philip. What was it about Laurence and his music that you wanted to bring to- and share with Oslo.
Philip: I discovered Laurence about a year ago on a collaboration with Harry Wolfman called “the schrew”. From that point on I started following his released and I think he is one of these artists you can just play the whole catalogue from without getting bored. Svømmebasseng also does a bit of Djing and I must admit that songs like “Thinking Of You” and “Ubik” are often included in our sets. So based on this the whole band really wanted to experience him in the flesh as well as maybe introducing our audience to a new, solid artist.
And Laurence, you are off course involved with the Church folks. What was the story behind your meeting and releases there?
Laurence: I basically made some tunes and I was trying to think who to give them to, and Church has just released the FYI chris one. It was maybe the first or second Church release on the label and it was similar to what I wanted to do. I have a friend called Ben Pearce, who’s also friends with James from Church and I just got him to introduce us… that was it.
Did you go to their parties often, the Sunday night events at Corsica?
L: No I had never been to one before. I started going after I got involved with them. The only thing I heard from the label was the FYI Chris release.
Since then you also had a few releases on there and also on Cin Cin, Fort Romeau’s label.
L: I had never met Fort Romeau, but he runs the label with a guy called Ali Tillett, who’s my agent. I sent him some music to see if he could pass it on to some people, and he said “ I just started the label and do you want to release it on there?” So we did that instead. I was quite happy to share it with Fort Romeau, because I have been a fan of his for while.
It sounds like personal relationships are important for spreading your music to others?
L: Yes, spreading music through personal connections is very important to me. It’s nice to build up a relationship with a label, so that you can work together to ultimately push everyone involved as far as possible. It leads to more interesting music, as you feel more comfortable sending all kinds of ideas.
Philip, getting back to you. You’ve obviously gotten Laurence to DJ after your live set. Where do you find a continuity between his sets and Svømmebassengs music?
P: We think that it creates a good continuation. During the last years we’ve been working more on songs the audience can dance to, by introducing elements and rhythms which can be found in more club oriented music. In addition, Laurence has a lot of melodic stuff in his music, as we do, so it should be a great transition. Also, we like his music so we wanted him to come over to play.
L: It’s up to me that the music I play first is a continuation of what you’ve played. So it will be fun. I’ll just bring a lot of different stuff.
Have you heard some of Svømmebasseng Laurence?
L: No, to be honest, I didn’t really know much of what was happening that night, other than that I was going to Oslo. I’m pretty excited. The club looks amazing.
P: I would actually have been amazed if you had heard about us. (Laughs)
Yeah, because you guys sing in Norwegian, so I think it’s very rare for the music to travel far from Norwegian shores. But with the melodies and the Disco feel to Svømmebasseng it’s perfect for the club environment and a DJ set.
P: Yes, Normally when we have a night, and afterwards we’ll have a DJ or we DJ ourselves. Basically we like club music, but it’s not always that easy to make club-music as a six piece band, so we get some clubbing vibes from DJs like Laurence
Can you tell us a little bit more about the origins of Svømmebasseng?
P: During our studies in Bergen we got together a couple of friends and started jamming. The jams turned into songs and we decided to try to present our music to the public. We needed some vocals and we got our friend Lars (Sandbakken) and the next door neighbour of the two brothers in the band, Hans and Jens (Heli) , to join, that’s where Ine (Johnsen) comes in. After playing in different gardens during the summer of 2013, we got a record deal and have since then, slowly put together new songs. During the spring of 2017 we will release our second studio album, Broder.
And Laurence tell me a bit about your origins in music.
L: It started ages ago, when I was 14/15 with Hip-Hop Dj, basic program where you put loops together…
P: O yeah, I had that one.
L: There was sequencer in there and I got really excited about that and moved on to Fruity Loops and just carried on from there. Originally I was making Drum and Bass.
How did you make the move into House from there?
L: As I got older, the tempo slowed down. When I was 15/17 Drum and Bass was really exciting ‘because it was all kind of fast. When you go to parties it was quite intense, and it was all really fun when you’re young. But the crowd isn’t very open and the music is very one dimensional.
With a lot of the Drum n Bass out there, in interviews they’d always talk about how they were influenced by Detroit House, so I started looking a bit further. I realised that if you go to a House music party you could get a lot more different music in one night.
Growing up in London, must have been quite exciting, since it’s always been such a hub for electronic music?
L: I lived about 45 minutes away from London. We’d be in London every weekend from the age of 16/17, going out all the time. I never had much need to go anywhere else, since you can pick four amazing line-ups in a week and go to any one of them.
Do you find this whole thing with police cracking down on clubs in the city has affected the music scene there?
L: Yeah, there’s quite a few venues closing so you notice that any medium sized event is really struggling trying to find places to do it, so if it continues like that you’re just gonna have this huge gap. So you have Ministry of Sound or Fabric and then tiny basements that are not really that well equipped to put on decent parties.
Philip, with your experience of club music in Oslo and Norway and the stringent laws that dictate it, what are your thoughts on the scene as a whole?
P: Well, you can’t experience the biggest DJ names every weekend here in Norway, but I still believe that especially in Oslo, the music scene is really good. I however still live in Bergen due to studies (laughs). In Oslo, my experience is that the music that is played on a night out can be as good as anywhere else. But, there may be an aspect of musical nationalism involved here, I don’t know…
You don’t sound to keen on Bergen, but isn’t most of the electronic music scene of Norway pretty much there, with people like Bjorn Torske, Annie, Mental Overdrive and Röyksopp all living there?
P: Off course you have some names, but in recent years it seems like the club awareness there has basically gone a bit down. Or, there is the possibility of me becoming too old to understand what is cool these days. But as an example, there was a DJ coming over from Berlin a month ago and I heard the club was basically empty. .
Laurence, do you have any association with Norwegian club music at all, before this event?
L: Uhmmmm. I hope I’m right when saying that the Full Pupp label is Norwegian. In that sense I’ve always been into that Cosmic Disco thing.
P: I think It’s called Oslo Space Disco.
L: Yeah that sort of thing, but I’ve never been to oslo or Norway so I’m pretty excited to get out there. I’m looking forward to it, and eating some pickled fish.
Maybe we’ll try and dig up some Lutefisk for you… it’s a bit of an acquired taste though.