Between two worlds with Rudow

It was an informal meeting on a park bench in Kreuzberg that brought Alexander Rishaug’s newest project Rudow to life. Initially pinned as a “lost tape” project and released as an unknown release through Hardwax channels, Rudow is experimental artist, Alexander Rishaug infiltrating the club floor from the inky subterranean where intuition and intrigue dwell. Rudow is Rishaug’s first concerted effort at club music, channeling his extensive experience, as sound artist, musician, producer, remixer and conceptual artist into a singular execution with designs on the DJ booth.

Rudow bucks the trend in Freakout Cult’s discography, with a sonic mire of layers flowing through progressions whose closest relative is Techno. Although a rhythmical output, Rudow’s intentions move away from the genre’s percussive insistency and channels it to a textural dimension closer associated with the drone and ambient genres that Alexander Rishaug is often associated with.

Rishaug’s musical career begins in ‘95 with a series of self-released tapes, bridging the gaps between noise and electronica before releasing his now classic debut, Panorama on Smalltown Supersound. A fleeting figure, Rishaug has indulged all encompassing corners of the electronic music sphere and beyond with music that feigns the obvious and thrives in the obscure without alienating a listener. 2014’s Pa.git illustrates this most effectively as a work born out of the harsh tonalities of a church organ and guitar, inspired by Doom and Black Metal, but executed in a most subtle ambient arrangement, bringing out only the tenderest sonorities from those domineering instruments.

In the six tracks that make up the new Rudow release, a bridge exists between these works and Rishaug’s more club-leaning influences, carried over by tracks like “Floating Point” and “Slow / Grow”. “Contrary Motion” and “Manifesting the Unreal” lead us out of these worlds again, but remain tethered to Rishaug’s artistic identity which is ingrained in a kind of textural atmosphere defined by a succinct mood.

Where does Rishaug end and Rudow begin and how did the record end up on Freakout Cult? We attempt to unravel these burning questions and more when we sit down with Alexander over a coffee to find out where the thin red line exists between two worls..

Tell​ ​me​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​about​ ​the​ ​Rudow​ ​project.

It’s​ ​a​ ​parallel​ ​project​ ​to​ ​the​ more experimental​ ​stuff I do.​ ​​ For​ ​me​ ​it’s​ ​been​ ​there​ ​from​ ​the start;​ ​there’s​ ​​always​ ​been​ an interest in ​rhythms​ ​in​ ​my​ ​experimental​ ​music,​ ​but​ ​when​ ​I​ ​had​ ​found​ ​the name​ ​Rudow,​ ​I​ ​realised​ ​that​ ​I wanted it to be its​ ​own​ ​project.​ ​It​ ​has​ ​a​ ​clear framework​ ​and​ ​a​ ​direction,​ ​and​ ​when​ ​I met Fett​ ​Burger ​from​ ​Freakout​ ​Cult​, ​I​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​finish​ ​the​ ​project.

How​ ​did​ ​you​ ​meet​ DJ​ ​Fett​ ​Burger?

I​ ​knew​ ​him​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​from​ ​the​ ​art and Techno scene​ ​in​ ​Norway,​ ​and​ ​he​ ​also​ ​knew​ ​my work,​ ​but​ ​we​ ​weren’t​ ​really​ ​friends.​ ​I was​ ​sitting​ ​on​ ​a​ ​bench​ ​in​ ​Kreuzberg​ ​in​ ​Berlin​ ​and​ ​this​ ​guy​ ​was​ ​locking​ ​his​ ​bike​ ​up,​ ​and​ ​I happened​ ​to​ ​recognize​ ​him.​ ​We​ ​started​ ​talking​ ​about experimental​ ​music​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Berlin​ ​scene vs the Oslo scene​ ​and​ ​after​ ​a​ ​really​ ​nice​ ​chat​ ​we​ ​cemented​ ​the​ ​beginning of​ ​the​ ​release.

You​ ​mentioned​ ​you​ ​found​ ​a​ ​framework​ ​for​ ​the​ ​project,​ ​but​ ​besides​ ​the​ ​rhythmical​ ​aspect what​ ​did​ ​that​ ​entail​ ​for​ ​Rudow?

I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​have​ ​that​ ​rhythmical​ ​aspect,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​also​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​have​ ​it​ ​a​ ​little​ ​more​ ​open towards textures and ambient spheres.​ ​When​ ​I started​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​club​ ​music​ ​I​ ​was​ ​always​ ​more​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​the​ ​leftfield​ ​electronica​ ​like​ ​Basic Channel,​ ​DeepChord​ ​and​ ​Warp.​ ​That​ ​was​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​the​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​it,​ ​but​ ​then​ ​ ​I​ ​had​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​how ​it​ would​ ​sound​ ​in​ ​the​ ​end.​ ​I​ ​remember​ ​when​ ​I​ ​made​ ​that​ ​first​ bass line on the first ​track​ ​on​ ​the album,​ ​I knew that​ ​​this​​ ​is​ ​the Rudow​ ​sound I was looking for.

One​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​this​ ​release​ ​stick​ ​out​ ​from​ ​any​ ​of​ ​the​ ​other​ ​releases​ ​on​ ​Freakout Cult​ ​is​ ​that​ ​is​ ​very​ ​layered​ ​and​ ​the​ ​textures​ ​are​ ​quite​ ​rich,​ ​which​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​ties​ ​in​ ​with​ ​your more​ ​experimental​ ​stuff.

Yes,​ ​I​ ​guess​ ​that’s​ ​where​ ​my​ ​experience​ ​as​ ​a​ ​composer​ ​comes​ ​into​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​like​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​details and​ ​layers​ ​and​ ​develop small​ ​changes over time.

So​ ​you’re​ ​background​ ​is​ ​in​ ​composition?

Actually​ ​my​ ​background​ ​is​ ​as​ ​a​ ​visual​ ​artist,​ ​so​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​academically skilled​ ​in​ ​composition,​ ​but​ ​self taught.​ ​I​ ​started​ ​composing/improvising​ ​in​ ​‘95​ ​and​ ​had​ ​my​ ​first​ ​tape​ ​release​ ​in​ ​‘97​ ​called​ ​“Rainy​ ​Days Forever”,​ ​which​ ​was​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​lo-fi,​ ​guitar​ ​synth​ ​album.​ ​My​ first​​ ​electronic​ ​music​ ​album​ ​came​ ​out in​ ​2001​ ​on​ ​Smalltown​ ​Supersound,​ ​titled Panorama.

What​ ​was​ ​the​ ​instrument​ ​that​ ​started​ ​it​ ​all​ ​for​ ​you?

I​ ​played​ ​the​ ​flute,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​the​ ​end​ ​I​ ​hadn’t​ ​gotten​ ​any​ ​joy​ ​out​ ​of​ ​it,​ ​because​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​practise​ ​and do​ ​big​ ​band​ ​rehearsals.​ ​It​ ​wasn’t​ ​quite​ ​as​ ​free​ ​as​ ​I​ ​would’ve​ ​liked​ ​it,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​stopped playing music for a couple of years.​ ​Later​ ​I​ ​started playing​ ​the​ ​guitar​ ​when​ ​a​ ​friend​ ​of​ ​mine​ ​introduced​ ​me​ ​to​ ​classic​ ​guitar.​ ​I​ ​started​ ​playing​ ​around with​ ​interesting​ ​textures​ ​and​ ​melodies​ ​and​ ​that​ ​was​ ​the​ ​way​ ​in to​ ​working​ ​with​ ​transforming and processing sound,​ ​to​ ​use​ ​an​ ​instrument​ ​or​ ​a​ ​field​ ​recording​ ​and​ ​turning​ ​it​ ​into​ ​something else.

Tell​ ​me​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​about​ ​your​ ​early​ ​musical​ ​influences,​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​club​ ​music​ ​hemisphere.

Before​ ​I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​art​ ​school,​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​know​ ​that​ ​much​ ​of​ ​the​ ​history​ ​of​ ​experimental​ ​electronic music,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​started​ ​digging​ ​a​ ​little​ ​further​ ​into​ ​that​ ​side​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world​ ​with​ ​John Cage,​ ​Pauline​ ​Oliveros, Steve​ ​Reich​, Eliane Radique ​and​ ​Terry​ ​Riley.

One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​reasons​ ​I​ ​went​ ​to​ ​Trondheim​ ​University​ ​was​ ​because​ ​Helge​ ​Sten​ ​(Deathprod)​ ​was​ ​at the​ ​academy.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​this​ ​rumour​ ​that​ ​the​ ​academy​ ​was​ ​focussing​ ​on​ ​new​ ​media and technology.​ ​Today​ all​ ​of the​ ​Norwegian art academies​ ​do​ ​that,​ ​but​ ​at​ ​that​ ​time​ ​Trondheim​ ​was​ ​the​ ​multimedia​ hub.​ ​So​ ​that​ ​was the​ ​reason​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​go​ ​there.

I​ ​had​ ​also​ ​heard​ ​this​ ​Motorspycho​ ​album,​ ​Demon​ ​Box​ ​in​ ​which​ ​Helge​ ​had​ ​quite​ ​a​ ​central​ ​role​ ​as the​ ​producer.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​a​ ​big​ ​influence​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​turning​ ​rock​ ​or​ ​popular​ ​music​ ​into​ ​something else,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​took​ ​me​ ​from​ ​listening​ ​to​ punk and​hardcore​ ​to​ ​other,​ ​more​ ​experimental​ ​things.​ ​I​ ​was listening​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​metal​ ​stuff​, ​so​ ​in​ ​a​ ​way​ ​I​ ​came​ ​from​ ​metal,​ ​but​ ​moved​ ​into​ ​electronic​ ​music.

Do​ ​you​ ​still​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​metal?

Sometimes,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​go​ ​to​ ​every​ ​metal​ ​show,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​often​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​metal​ ​at​ ​home,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​still enjoy the power of​ ​it.

Do​ ​you​ ​ever​ ​reference​ ​it​ ​in​ ​your​ ​music​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​recreate​ ​something​ ​from metal​ ​in​ ​an​ ​electronic​ ​landscape?

I​ ​guess​ ​so.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​I​ ​was​ ​very​ ​influenced​​​ ​by​ ​black​ ​metal and the more emotional/melodic part of the noise genre;​ ​that​ ​dirty​ ​and beautiful distorted​ ​sound.​ ​My last​ ​solo​ ​album​ ​for​ ​instance,​ ​Ma.Org​ ​Pa.Git​ ​​which​ ​I​ ​released​ ​in​ ​2014​ ​was​ based on​ ​church​ ​organ and​ ​electric​ ​guitar.​ For me ​It​ ​has​ ​this​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​connection​ ​between​ ​ambience,​ ​doom​ ​and​ ​folk​ ​music​ and was a tribute to where I had come from.

Getting​ ​back​ ​to​ ​Rudow.​ ​Are​ ​there​ ​any​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​a​ ​live​ ​show​ ​around​ ​the​ ​EP?

Yes​ ​I​ ​hope​ ​so.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​made​ ​some​ ​other​ ​tracks​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​and​ ​I​ ​have​ ​some​ ​ideas​ ​for​ ​a​ ​live show​ ​incorporating​ ​these​ ​pieces.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ideas​ ​is​ ​to​ ​have​ ​Eivind​ Henjum alias Sprutbass ​from​ ​the Dødpop​ collective to play ​bass and​ ​incorporate​ ​that​ ​with​ ​the​ ​synths.​ ​I​ ​actually​ ​played​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tracks​ ​when I played at​ ​Sunkissed Live at BLÅ,​ ​so​ ​I think​ ​it​ ​definitely could​ ​work on a dance floor.

I​ ​don’t​ ​actually​ ​call​ ​it​ ​an​ ​EP​ ​by​ ​the​ ​way,​ ​I’m​ ​calling​ ​it​ ​an​ ​album.

Do​ ​you​ ​prefer​ ​it​ ​as​ ​an​ ​album​ ​because​ ​it​ ​consolidates​ ​the​ ​project?

I​ ​guess​ ​so,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​just​ ​two​ ​tracks,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​teaser,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​of​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a​ ​fully​ -fledged album, that can stand on its own.

Did​ ​you​ ​sit​ ​down​ ​with​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​to​ ​create​ ​an​ ​album?

It had​ ​a​ ​different​ ​idea​ ​from​ ​the​ ​start,​ ​because​ ​when​ ​I​ ​sent​ ​it​ ​to​ ​Freakout Cult,​ ​it​ ​had​ ​only​ ​four tracks,​ ​so​ ​the​ ​last​ ​tracks​ ​on​ ​either​ ​side​ ​would​ ​not​ ​have​ ​been​ ​there.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​to​ ​make one more​ ​rhythmical​ ​track​ ​and​ ​then​ ​an​ ​ambient​ ​texture​ ​track,​ ​but​ ​they​ (Freakout cult) ​wanted​ ​two​ ​more​ ​tracks​ ​that were​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​what​ ​I​ ​do​ ​as​ ​an​ ​experimental​ ​artist​, ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​bridge​ ​between​ ​those​ ​two worlds.

I’ve​ ​been​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​your​ ​album​ ​shadow​ ​of​ ​events​ ​recently​ ​and​ ​thought​ ​the​ ​Rudow project​ ​might​ ​be​ ​a​ ​complete​ ​departure​ ​but​ ​was​ ​happy​ ​to​ ​find​ ​that​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​red​ ​thread between​ ​them,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​it​ ​wasn’t​ ​adapting​ ​to​ ​that​ ​Freakout​ ​Cult​ ​sound,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​bit more​ ​lo-fi,​ ​more​ ​dancefloor​ ​orientated.

I​ ​guess​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​different​ ​to​ ​the​ ​other​ ​releases​ ​on​ ​Freakout Cult,​ ​but​ ​since​ ​Dj Fett Burger​ ​is​​ ​into​ ​it​ ​and​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​release​ ​it,​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​find​ ​it​ ​problematic​ ​at​ ​all.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​it’s​ ​great​ ​that​ ​the​ ​label​ ​can​ ​have​ ​that wideness​ ​to​ ​it,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​might​ ​be​ ​that​ ​their​ ​regular​ ​listeners​ ​might​ ​find​ ​this​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​dark,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​think that’s​ ​ok.

I​ ​remember​ ​seeing​ ​the​ ​Sex​ ​Tags​ ​guys​ ​many​ ​years​ ​ago​ ​in​ ​Bergen​ ​and​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​that​ their live set was ​quite​ ​vibrant and​ ​full​ ​of​ ​surprises.​ ​They​ ​can​ ​take​ ​it​ ​to​ ​many​ ​different​ ​directions.​ ​It’s​ ​playful​ ​and​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​try to​ ​copy​ ​just​ ​one​ ​style​ ​of​ ​music.​ ​They​ ​are​ present,​ ​listening​ ​and​ ​always​ ​pushing what’s possible on the​ ​dance​ ​floor.

Where​ ​do​ ​you​ ​usually​ ​start​ ​off​ ​with​ ​your​ ​music;​ ​is​ ​it​ ​concept​ ​or​ ​an​ ​instrument?

I​ ​use​ ​field​ ​recordings​ ​and​ ​some​ ​analogue​ ​equipment,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​I​ ​process​ ​it​ ​in​ ​the computer,​ ​​ ​the​ ​Rudow​ ​project​ ​starts​ ​off​ ​on​ ​a​ ​Juno 60.

Will​ ​you​ ​be​ ​going​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the​ ​experimental​ ​stuff​ ​after​ ​this​ ​Rudow​ ​release?

Yes,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​I’m​ ​actually​ ​working​ ​on​ ​another​ ​project​ ​in​ ​​​”Regjeringskvartalet”​ ​(the​ ​empty parliament​ ​buildings​ ​in​ ​Oslo).​ ​I​ ​had​ ​this​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​recording​ ​the​ ​emptiness​ and current state ​of​ ​the​ ​building.​ ​They want​ ​to​ ​tear​ ​down​ ​the​ ​two​ ​top​ ​floors​ ​and​ build four new ones and ​the​ ​“Y-block”​ ​will most likely be demolished and​ ​I​ ​wanted ​to​ ​record​ ​it​ ​before​ ​it​ ​goes,​ ​but it’s​ ​incredibly​ ​strict.​ ​After​ ​trying​ ​for​ ​half​ ​a​ ​year​ ​to​ ​get​ permission​ ​we​ ​finally​ ​succeeded.​ ​It’s interesting to see how these power structures function.

After recording two nights in ”Høyblokka” I​ ​got​ ​some​ ​really amazing material,​ which ​you​ ​can​ ​almost​ ​use​ ​it​ ​exactly​ ​as​ ​it​ ​is, with just some simple tweaking.​ ​I​ ​see​ ​the​ ​building​ ​as​ ​an​ ​organism,​ ​a​ ​living instrument​ ​and​ ​placed​ ​out microphones​ ​in​​ ​various​ ​pipes, ​cavities and spaces.

Are​ ​you​ ​setting​ ​any​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​building​ ​into​ ​vibration​ ​to​ ​capture​ ​the​ ​results?

No,​ ​and​ ​that’s​ ​why​ ​we​ ​recorded​ ​it​ ​at​ ​night​ ​too.​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​human interaction​. ​We​ ​went​​ there ​around​ ​three​ ​in​ ​the​ ​morning​ ​to​ ​record, and​ ​I​ ​noticed​ ​when​ ​people​ ​started​ ​arriving​ ​to​ ​work​ ​in​ ​the​ ​morning,​ ​the​ ​strength​ and the intensity ​of​ ​the​ ​sound material died. It​ ​was​ ​supposed​ ​to​ ​be​ ​about​ ​the​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​humanity​ ​and​ ​just​ ​this​ ​empty​ ​building.​ ​Even​ ​silence​ ​is something​ ​when​ ​you​ ​record​ ​it.​ ​I’ve​ ​often​ ​found​ ​that​ ​when​ ​you​ enter​ ​an​ ​empty​ ​space​ ​and​ ​go into​ ​a​ ​deep​ ​listening​ ​mode,​ ​you​ ​often​ ​hear​ ​frequencies​ ​and sound qualities you​ ​wouldn’t​ ​hear​ ​normally.

So​ ​this​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​an​ ​album?

Yes, I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​an​ ​album​ ​and​ ​a​ ​sound​ ​installation,​ ​but​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​other​ ​ideas​ ​is​ ​to​ ​give​ ​the​ ​raw files​ ​to​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Library​ ​for​ ​their​ ​archives, for future generations.

How​ ​would​ ​the​ ​sound​ ​installation​ ​work?

I​ ​received​ ​URO funding​ ​for​ ​the​ ​project​ ​from​ ​KORO,​ ​who​ ​supports​ ​art​ ​projects​ ​in​ ​public​ ​spaces​ ​and​ ​I was​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​figure​ ​out​ ​how​ ​to​ ​use​ ​it​ ​in​ ​a​ ​public​ ​space,​ ​but​ ​realised​ ​that​ ​because​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​a public​ ​space​ ​it​ ​could​ ​be​ ​re-appropriated​ ​in​ ​a​ ​gallery​ ​or​ ​something​ ​similar. Maybe that’s even stronger than to present it there? We’ll see, this is still just a thought process.

Was​ ​there​ ​a​ ​point​ ​where​ ​you​ ​moved​ ​out​ ​of creating​ ​music​ ​for​ ​the​ ​sake​ ​of​ ​music​ ​like​ ​your​ ​2001​ ​smalltown​ ​supersound​ ​album​ ​and moved​ ​into​ ​a​ ​more​ ​conceptual​ ​framework?

I​ ​never​ ​really​ ​moved​ ​out​ ​of​ ​that​ ​phase.​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​I​ ​can​ ​work​ ​in​ ​between​ ​the​ ​two,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​did that,​ ​even​ ​at​ ​that​ ​time.​ ​When​ ​I​ ​released​ ​that​ ​album,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​still​ ​doing​ ​things​ ​in​ ​art​ ​galleries​ ​and theatres,​ ​but​ ​I​ ​guess​ ​when​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​very broad​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​sound,​ ​people​ ​often​ ​find​ ​it​ ​hard​ ​to understand.​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​a​ ​Techno​ ​artist,​ ​and​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​a​ ​classical​ ​composer​ ​either,​ ​so​ ​that’s​ ​why​ ​when people​ ​ask​, ​I​ ​refer​ ​to​ ​myself​ ​as​ ​a​ ​sound​ ​artist​ ​/​ ​musician,​ ​because​ ​then​ ​I​ ​have the freedom to go​ ​in​ ​between.