In a creative mood with Dorisburg

Between the dance floor and the visceral dimension exists a sound  all onto its own. It’s a sound based on a minimalist aesthetic that visits contrasting corners of the dance floor from House to Techno and has found its way on labels like Aniara, Hivern Discs and Northern Electronics. With a focus looking towards the ethereal dimensions of the dance floor, it’s the sound of Dorisburg – the solo alias of Swedish producer Alexander Berg and one half of Genius of Time. Dorisburg sees Berg harness that universal appeal of Genius of Time into his own artistic voice, speaking of something personal and human through the language of machines.

Born around the same era as Genius of Time, Dorisburg has been a fundamental piece of Fabian Bruhn’s Aniara puzzle as the label’s second only release in “Sinai Hypnosis” and a prominent fixture ever since – coming into his own as an artist within that community. From there he sculpted the Dorisburg sound into something completely unique, with music that lives on the enlightened plain of subconscious reverie and finding an eventual form in the context of club music. Even so Dorisburg’s music often defies classification, but whether he’s playing in the rhythmical Garage motifs of “Mima”,  the functional Techno of “Business Propaganda”, or approaching the album format as in “Irrbloss”, there’s something distinctly Dorisburg about the music he produces.

The music breathes within a minimalist landscape, and through very little, Dorisburg can inflect a lot. He’s a musical consistency today, producing music at a staggering rate without wavering from his singular voice. Although an excellent DJ too, his music is best experienced in the live context. It’s in this live context that he’ll be visiting Jæger’s basement very soon, and this presented us with an opportunity to ask the artist some questions. We wanted to know how the sense of community at Aniara affects him and how exactly he uses his machines to communicate something so human in his music. Through an email, we posed some of these questions and more and get a glimpse at what makes this talented artist so appealing.  

Let’s start with Genius of Time. With both you and Arkajo (Nils Krogh) very busy with solo projects, where does this leave Genius of Time at the moment and how do you find a balance between these two projects?

I don’t find it too hard to balance the two projects in terms of knowing what ideas would work for one or the other. Genius of time is really all about the energy that me and Nils have together working in the same room, so naturally Genius of Time is what happens when we get together and Dorisburg when I´m working alone.

We’ve been working quite a lot this past year on new stuff so you can expect to hear new things once the tunes start rolling out. We’re also preparing a new live set to premier this summer and will do a few special shows with that :)

I read somewhere that you are often inspired by books and visual arts. What are you reading at the moment and what work of art is really inspiring you?

William Blake and Horst Antes are examples of writings and visual art that really gets me inspired and make me wanna run over to the studio to make sounds.

How do you know if something like that will make its way into the music?

I don’t know if it will but it certainly puts me in the mood for making music. I don’t think I know exactly how that works myself. Reading other people’s interesting thoughts and reflections often puts me in a creative mood where I feel an urge to express new thoughts or feelings through sound.

In a recent XLR8R interview you talked about your need to be surrounded by creative individuals when you are working, even on your solo work. What is it about a community that propels your own work, and is it a tangible feeling or something more abstract?

I don’t think that working without interaction with other people would give me enough motivation to push myself to develop and learn new things.

Is it about their music influencing or inspiring you at all?

Yes definitely. The people close to me inspire me a great deal both musically and as people.

You are quite close to people like Fabian Bruhn (Aniara) and you’ve mentioned before how you might discuss something with Fabian, which will then even affect the outcome of a track. Can you give us an example of that at play?

Fabian is really good at seeing potential in something that I otherwise might have not continued working on. Sinai Hypnosis is a good example of that. The demo would probably have been lost and forgotten on my hard drive if it wasn’t for him.

You often talk about feeling in your music, and journalist often talk about it too. At what point does the feeling start to exist and how do you maintain it if you have to revisit or finish it after that initial encounter?

Often the emotional content of a track is there in the first recordings, so revisiting a track is more about polishing and carving out the core idea. Maybe realising what elements are the core of the track and taking away stuff that doesn’t support that idea fully. Sort of like removing the scaffolding after finishing a house? You needed it to build it, but once ready it´s not necessary anymore.

You work in a fairly minimalist aesthetic. How does that inhibit and/or encourage what you’re trying to put across?

I’m quite interested in exploring how to get much emotional content through with simple and minimal elements.

Your music can go from evocative moments on Aniara to the more experimental melancholic pieces for Northern Electronics. Is it about relaying something specific to an audience in each case and/or encapsulating a feeling from the start as influenced by the label?

It’s probably more that I get inspired in different ways when working with different labels. And it’s a good way to explore different vibes in the music I make.

Your music lies somewhere between the functional and the transient. Is there a particular ideology that you adhere to when you are making music?

Functional dance music is very interesting to me. There’s something almost magical about how sounds can be groovy and make people want to move their bodies. So I’m inspired by a lot of music that is probably more functional and minimal than the stuff I make, but I really like to have that sort of drive in my music as well and make something both for the mind to transport and the body to move.

Is it something that extends to your live shows?

I’ve had moments myself where dancing in clubs really is a healing experience almost like therapy and if I can provide that to someone else then I’m very grateful.

Both as a solo artist and as Genius of Time you often favour the live context. What does that bring out in you that a DJ set can’t and what aspects of a DJ set do you miss in a live show?

What I really like about DJing is spending more time with the audience and going in directions that I might not do through my own music.

I’ve seen images that feature a lot of hardware. Will you be bringing this out with you and what do you consider absolutely crucial to your setup?

For this show I will bring some drum machines, one vintage and one modern. It’s cool how you can make these machine talk to each other even though their 30 years apart in age! Then I’ll have a sequencer and a sampler with some effects.

Some of those images feature a Buchla. As synthesisers go it’s quite an abstract musical tool, that encourages a gestural kind of playing. How do you find this particular synth suits your live show needs specifically?

The Buchla is really cool to improvise with but you can’t have too much of a premeditated plan! But it will stay home this time as I wanna improvise more with the drums this time and after all I’ve only got two hands to work with!

This is your first time you’re gonna be in Oslo in a live context and since we’ve seen you DJ both as Genius of Time and Dorisburg, what should we expect of your live show?

It’s actually the second time I’ll play live at Jaæger. But I’m glad I’ve tried it out once before because knowing how amazing the acoustics and sound is in that room, I know I can make it sonically more interesting and work more with the ambiences and details that would not really come across in other sound systems. So yes getting that opportunity is really exciting and motivating. Thanks for inviting me  – I  really look forward to it!