JM#106 – A:G

A:G ‘s (Asgeir Giskegjerde) roots run deep within the electronic music scene in Oslo. Sunkissed, Det Gode Selskab, OsloGround and Blossy are just some of the affiliations he has with electronic music in the city and producer, DJ, promoter and label owner cover some of his credentials. He’s featured on the Æmix in the past, and makes regular appearances in our booth, often as part of Det Gode Selskab DJ collective. Earlier this year A:G inaugurated the DGS label with “Nese”, a deep, tech track that saw Jack Dandy and the DGS ensemble of Karl Fraunhofer, Tod Louie and Solaris jump on the remixes.

Stepping into our booth on the Sunday following another milestone event in the Sunkissed biography the night before, A:G stays in the electronic music realm, with a backwards glance to the 1990’s era of Techno. Breakbeats, acid and effervescent pads collide in minimal arrangements as the DJ joins the dots between the past, present and future of electronic music. Edging past the 130BPM-mark, the rhythms indulge an energetic pursuit throughout this mix, while harmonic and melodic parts offer a subdued contrast to the layered percussive parts.

Unwavering in the sound he proliferates through this mix, one track joins the next in indistinguishable segue-ways that form part of the bigger picture, setting a very specific mood for his entire mix. Accompanying the Æmix this week, we have quite an extensive Q&A with the man of the hour talking about Sunkissed, “nese”, DGS and his recent grapples with ailing ears.

Asgeir, last night was a big night for Sunkissed. Tell us what went down?

Indeed it was! In addition to being the final night of the Øya festival, it was also the celebration of Sunkissed turning 18 years, and legendary Oslo based label Smalltown Supersound turning 25, as was also celebrated at the festival itself. With many of the members of the Sunkissed crew being highly affiliated with the label throughout the years, i.e. the Sunkissed mix-cd from g-Ha and Olanskii from a good ten years back (including tracks from the likes of Lindstrøm, diskJokke and Bjørn Torske), I guess Ola and Geir felt it was a natural way to celebrate, having Bjørn Torske as the headlining act.

It was the first time I had the pleasure of hearing him DJ personally, and I’d say he really raised the roof. There were quite a few moments that really appealed to the crate digger in me, where some 90s bleeps and techno grooves were really setting the dancefloor on fire. It was also great to see Olanskii, g-Ha and Vinny Villbass in their right element rocking the floor, turning it up a notch after Daniel Vaz and I had been playing for a vibrant and cozy outside area from early in the afternoon. The great thing about Sunkissed in the summer is that you can start outside early and have somewhat longer sets, leaving more time for the DJ to tell a wider part of a story instead of just a short version.

You’ve been a part of the Sunkissed family for a while. How did you get involved there?

Well, the full story is a bit too long, but let’s go with the semi-short version here… I met g-Ha at the end of 2007 when we booked him to my home town Ålesund, where he played a mindblowing set to a local resident DJ like me, inspiring me to dig a lot deeper in the world of electronic music. He came back in the beginning of 2009, and after a long chat about gigging and the direction I wanted to follow musically, he gave me the nudge I needed to decide on moving to Oslo later that year. He then introduced me to Ola, Vinny Villbass I had met at a gig the year before, I obviously started to go regularly to the Sunkissed nights at Blå, I got to know others from the crew, and some years later I was asked to help out with some rigging work. As I was almost as good as Nico Coltsfoot at telling bad jokes, combined with some technical insights actually contributing to the rigging work, I guess staying on to play records, having fun with the family was the natural outcome.

It’s an institution in Oslo today. Why do you think it’s been such a significant part of the scene in the city?

I think there are a million reasons to just that, and that I’m probably the wrong person to tell the tale. But to mention a few thoughts: I guess that since it started out filling a void before there was awareness of such a void in the scene, and was then slowly built with quality via great bookings, good promotions, Ola’s quite intense attention to detail, lots of work (and fun) behind the scenes from all people involved, it probably sparked an interest in an ever growing crowd seeking an alternative to chart music and VIP culture… Escapism for a few hours, dancing in unity with others, just enjoying the music coming from the DJ placed in the middle of the dancefloor, either being a local resident or big names like Ricardo Villalobos, Raresh and Ben Klock. There are quite a few people in Oslo who appreciate what we do, and for that it’s important to always be thankful.

Since you were last here on the Æmix, you also released the Nose, inaugurating the Det Gode Selskab label. What was that experience like and what do you hope it cemented in the sound of that label?

Ah, yes. The pun-o-rama EP. “Nese” is an old secret weapon of mine I made many years back, where the working title just kinda stuck, as it was a part of a humorously titled concept where I ended up throwing away the rest of the tracks. This one I kept playing though, and when DGS and Dandy Jack wanted to release and remix it, I was all for it. I considered changing the name, but since they were doing a series of releases where the concept were built around the senses, the name stayed on.

The release party in the end of March was kind of a milestone for me, as I had to take a break from all the loud sounds after damaging my ears last December. From being unsure if I’d ever be able to DJ or go clubbing again just a few months earlier, it felt very rewarding to play for such a dedicated crowd. As for the sound of the label, I really don’t know. They are focused on quality, and we share a lot of views about music, so I’m really excited to see what they release next from the magical studio at Løkka.

DGS has also become an institution in Oslo, and you’ve been a major piece of the puzzle there too. How does it compare to Sunkissed and what can you do in a set at DGS that you can’t always get through on a Sunkissed night?

Yeah I’ve been friends with Chris and Terje for quite a few years now, and they’ve always been able to make good stuff happen through the common efforts of a rather big team of dedicated and open minded people. Specialising in all-day rooftop parties, but also holding a residency at Jaeger, and playing the odd international club or festival gig, they are all super talented, and I’m really happy to be able to contribute and be in on the fun. It’s really cool to see the concept taking DGS DJs to various clubs around the world, and for my own part: Ten hours b2b with Chris and Terje at legendary Hoppetosse in Berlin back in 2015 is a night I will never ever forget.

DGS in comparison to Sunkissed it’s kinda hard to pinpoint. There’s an overlap in the crowd, and obviously also in my record bag, but I’m perhaps a bit more prone to take even bigger chances on oddball tracks on the vibrant rooftop at Rockefeller compared to inside at Blå, but then again at the lower deck at the recent Sunkissed boat trip I played some crazy electro and techno north of 130bpm to a cheering crowd, so I guess you can say it all depends on the setting. It’s hard putting one in front of the other, and that should never be the point either. Those who choose to look at it as competition with others tend to lose. Stand together, dance together, love together, fight together. With all the polarisation around us, the best thing to do is to remember PLUR and have fun while remembering what’s important.

But on to more  pressing matters, tell us about your Æmix?

The mix is a small glimpse into the kind of tracks I’m inspired by now. I guess if I had to describe it genre or style wise, there’s everything from techno, electro, breaks, acid, abstract, trance, minimal… I recently bought the reissue of Dan Curtin’s beautiful album Silicon Dawn on Peacefrog from 1994, which was really in the nick of time before I ended up paying way too much money on a decent original copy. I started out with Population 2 from the album, and even though it’s pitched down a good 5% the mix ended up being a bit faster than I used to play just a few years back.

The thing I really like with digging through a lot of old releases is that some of them won’t pitch down further than around 130bpm, thus creating a slightly different approach to including some of the 125bpm minimal techy stuff from a few years ago in a new setting when you play out. This way some tracks which were a bit low on energy suddenly get to shine in a higher tempo together with techno and rave inspired tracks these days, which is a thing I like a lot. The ending is a trance track from 1993 I just picked up which I feel is beautiful in all it’s simplicity. In between there are some fresh tracks too, for instance from the first release on the new imprint Blossy which I run with my fiancée Thorgerdur Johanna.

Speaking of, is there anything outside of music that inspired this mix?

Thorgerdur is obviously an endless source of inspiration, and I owe a lot of my evolvement to her constant ability to seek and push things forward. To be able to share the passion for each other and for the music is ever rewarding. And, our recent trip to Berlin where I saw her play at CDV, going to Griessmuhle checking out one of our favourites, and generally meeting lots of positive minded people and finding even more great music, are all things I guess influenced the mix somehow.

This is your second appearance at the Æmix; what do you think changes when you record a mix with a live audience like this?

Well, since you record it with a proper PA system on good gear, and feel the music vibrating through you when you play, while seeing the guests react to what you’re playing, it has a different dynamic to it compared to something you record at home. It’s easier to let the tracks breathe and work throughout the frequencies as you can really be moved by the grooves.

If you could sum up the mix in three words, what would it be?

Blossy. Rewarding. Honest.

What’s lying just beyond the horizon for you after this mix?

The next club gig I have lined up is on the 1st of September at Verkstedet with fellow diggers and music lovers in the 33|45 crew (Thorgerdur, Tonchius, Rub800, Alex Jangle), and there’s also a night b2b with Thorgerdur on the 8th of Sept in The Villa’s Sweat Shop. We’re also in the process of planning another Blossy night in the late fall, as the releaseparty with Z@p at The Villa in April was something really inspiring us to push forward. Apart from that I try to work a bit in the studio, as much as time and my ears allow me to.