Catching up with Syntax Erik

The last time Syntax Erik graced us with his presence at Jæger we were left in awe at his remarkable skill with a live electronic set. There was hardly a stationary body on the floor, and the few that were, were most likely trying to capture the moment on their phone, to savour again at a later date. His live show marked the release of his EP on Beatservice, and while we knew we liked “Keep it Deep” we saw it’s true potential when it arrived on Jæger’s dance floor through a set of Funktion One speakers. We’ve been itching to invite him back and when we heard he was releasing a new EP, coinciding with our reopening, we jumped at the chance to have him repeat a little of the magic from that night last year.

EP3 is more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from Syntax Erik, with a little more attitude dusted into mix on songs like “Don’t wanna dance”. Once again Erik has made electrifying tracks for the dance floor and there’s never a dull moment on this EP, much like “I can feel you” before it and “Keep it Deep” before that. We are very excited to hear some of this new material at Jæger, for what will also be the official launch of the EP, but before we get round to that, we thought we’d send some questions over to Syntax Erik ahead of his show, and he obliged by sending us back some answers. 

Where does the name Syntax Erik come from?
The very first Syntax Erik-release was the “Echelon EP” back in 2002 on Rune Lindbæk’s label Romklang. I think it was Rune who came up with the name during a phone call with me back then, but I don’t exactly remember because it was too early in the morning and I was half asleep. Only thing I remember is that he was in a hurry to get the artwork done for the EP, and I told him I didn’t want to use the name K.Y.D/Kyd anymore. I had previously released some 12″s and an album (“High Above”) with my friend Kango Stein Massiv as the duo Kyd & Kango. And my debut EP (“Retroheaven”) was back in 1997 on UK label Ten Pin Records using the name K.Y.D. I often helped Rune with his computer problems aka “syntax errors”. So the name might also come from that. Lately I had to make a track called “Hello My Name Is Raymond” because some people think Erik is my real name. But now they all just ask me who this Raymond-guy is…

So no relation to Erik from Bergen then?
Nope, no relation to him. And also no relation to Syntax TerrOrkester.

EP3 is your… uhm… third release as Erik. Can you tell us a little more about how it came to be?
It’s my third EP in a series of three 4-track EP’s released on Beatservice Records. The first was “Keep It Deep EP” and the second was “I Can Feel You EP”. I’m still undecided on the title for the third one. It will be released digitally on all platforms in March. The concept of the series is an exclusive selection of tracks from my vault with additional remixes. Kohib and De Fantastiske To did great remixes of the first two EP’s and Doc L Junior is currently working on a remix for the upcoming third release.

Like your last release, this music sounds like it was made for the dance floor. Was there any particular dance floor you had in mind and how do you capture that energy in the studio?
My music is absolutely made for the dance floor, but not any particular venue in mind when being produced. I don’t often find myself in clubs anymore, but I listen to House music everywhere I go. At home relaxing, when walking, taking the metro etc. To capture the energy in the studio I jam for hours at night, using headphones while enjoying some beers.

To me this release sound a lot more vigorous than your previous release, with a few grittier elements piled on the functional dance foundation. Has anything changed in your music since ‘I can feel you’?
In the early days I tried to make my tracks as clean and polished as possible. But it was difficult to do because my equipment was shit. Now I have great equipment and all the technology in the world, but use a lot of energy and time to make stuff sound real dirty again – because listening to a clean production is very boring to me. But the degree of grittiness varies from track to track.

It seems that you are referencing a lot of the history of dance music with elements of acid, break beats and the deeper stuff thrown into the mix.
I started making tracks in my bedroom in the early 90s and I’m still very inspired by that era in electronic music. I like to mix old samples with new synths and effects. Some of my newest tracks are originally based on 20-year-old ideas and samples from my beloved Amiga 1200. That also automatically makes it sound dirtier because of the crap 8-bit sampler I had.
I have experimented a lot with break beats in the past, but have never made it work in a House track before. I guess it does now. I just love a squeaky 303 over a busy break beat. That really takes me back.

Where did the vocal sample for downright deep come from?
From a surreal movie called “Wrong” by French director and musician Quentin Dupieux aka Mr.Oizo (Producer of “Flat Beat”). The movie is about a guy in search of his missing dog – pretty weird stuff, but great atmosphere and fun dialogue.

Was it a deep track before and you just added the sample, or did the track come about from the sample?
I had this unfinished idea just waiting for the final touch. I got inspired to complete it when I watched the previously mentioned movie. I added the sample, rearranged some parts, and the track was done. It’s probably a cliché to use a vocal phrase saying “deep” in a House track to make it sound deeper, but I think it’s all part of the old school sampling history. The track actually isn’t really that deep…too much stuff going on. It’s an ironic sample perhaps.

What do you hope the listener will get from EP3? Where would be the best place to listen to it?
The third EP, like the other two EP’s in the series, is for the House lovers – young and old – Someone who enjoys the sound of dirty beats with hypnotic 303 acid, and classic synths with nice melodies. Hopefully the girls will love my acid ballad called “Don’t Wanna Dance” which is a tribute to 1980s Whitney Houston. Maybe some boys will like it too. Best place for listening to this new EP has to be in the club dancing – or maybe in the car.

Your set at Jæger last year is still ingrained in our memory. Do you have any fond memories of the event?
Wow! That night was really amazing and a great release party for the “Keep It Deep EP”. It was my first time in a club doing a set with my own tracks in almost 12 years, so it was extremely fun for me to see how well the people reacted to the music. I really look forward coming back to play at Jæger once again. Love the sound system!

What can we expect from your next show at Jæger.
1980s Whitney Houston back from the dead! Maybe not in person, but in spirit and sampled. It’s basically the same procedure as last year – Me and my gear. It’s a busy night so the set will be short and tight. I will play the new tracks from the upcoming EP, maybe try out some unreleased stuff and probably one or two tracks from the earlier EP’s if I have time left.


*Syntax Erik will be be bringing his live set to us yet again during our official re-opening DJ Marathon.