No Agenda with Marius Circus

Marius Circus’ rendition of Lindstrøm’s “I feel space” didn’t merely pay a homage to a Norwegian dance floor classic, It proved to be a worthy contemporary fix on of the finest examples of Norwegian electronic music ever created. Marius’ bold analogue bass-line and lysergic interpretation of the original wasn’t merely a cover but a rendition worthy of its own plaudits. “It’s hard to touch the original” says Marius Circus when I ask him about his version over a cup coffee, but he’s “glad people like it.”

In early 2018 Marius (Øvrebø-Engemoen) Circus aired a video on social media of him taking on the “stone cold club classic,” and it proved to be so successful even Linsdstrøm couldn’t deny its appeal. When Hans Peder Lindstrøm “asked to get the stems for his live show” Marius “figured I should do something with this” and with Lindstrøm’s approval Marius released his versions via his newly founded In the Garden imprint, first as a digital release and later this autumn as a 12” vinyl version.

What merely “started as an experiment to recreate Hans-Peter’s complex chord progressions,” something Marius was merely doing for fun, suddenly had a live of its own after the video aired. Marius believes that “the original still stands the test of time,” and his version is only a “different take”, something of “an acid version” of the original, but there are unique merits to his adaptation that go toe to toe with the Lindstrøm classic. It didn’t merely update “I Feel Space”, but between the acid expressions, the sweltering bass and the original enigmatic chord progressions the idea of space resonates through the track more than ever. Shimmering murmurs, purr as they skim the surface across grainy synthesisers like an asteroid skipping its way across the milky way.

Marius recorded it as a live performance and in one take managed to capture it all for the future release. Andrew Weatherall came on board with a jack-booted remix, stomping through Marius’ version with a heavy-footed percussive onslaught. Weatherall’s “Love from outer Space” affiliate, Sean Johnston facilitated the remix, as Marius’ first and only “pick to do this.” Weatherall obliged and did two versions of it with the second exclusively available as a download from the vinyl version only. Together with the Marius Circus interpretation it was a second wind for “I Feel Space” that dusted off the cobwebs without underestimating the power of its origins.

“I Feel Space” came during a prolific time for the DJ turned producer. After a lengthy hiatus where Marius had three kids, moved out to the suburbs and practically stopped DJing, he says that he is now making “probably a hundred tracks a year” and he keeps the best of those for his young “In the Garden” label.

Marius’ career starts back in the early naughties as a DJ, where he was prominent figure in the Oslo scene. He “started buying more records at the turn of the millenium” and then “gradually started Djing” while making “friends with people from the Oslo scene like Prins Thomas and (Todd) Terje.” At some point he realised that  “if I ever was going to be recognised as DJ I had to start making music.” His first effort was a remix for Magnus international followed by an EP in 2011 on Full Pupp which was the one and only EP he released on a label before going on his lengthy hiatus.

As time moved on the “whole making music thing became more important” to Marius, but it would be a slow start for the budding producer, who only started making music in his late twenties and who was “only serious about it some time after that.” He was by his own account “extremely slow in the studio” and it would take some time before he honed his craft to a point where is “a lot faster” today. “My studio process had more or less become a live process at some point,” he says by way of explaining his newfound productivity.

This new era of creativity it became paramount to the creation of “In the Garden” to “have some sort of outlet for my own music that have complete control over” explains Marius. “Tired of waiting for other people’s agendas,” Marius brought the label into the world as an exclusive vehicle for his releases. Launched in 2016 officially, “In the Garde”n sports six releases today, with a seventh primed for later this December. “Polaris” originally released digitally earlier this year, will get a vinyl release with an Ewan Pearson remix in addition.

“Polaris” features a synthesised bass line that falls on the ear like silk, while electronic textures create a wispy firmament, gently enveloping the foundation of the track. With a steady 4 to the floor beat, it’s a track born from the dance floor, but easily lives beyond its functional design. Like the intrepid Norwegian space cadets that came before him Marius Circus looks to the stars for his inspiration with space-aged synths from vintage catalogues and Disco rhythms informing his work.

It remains grounded however through “In the Garden”, which he claims is “a lot of work,” even if it’s solely for Marius’ music, but it allows him the freedom to be subjective in his own way.  “At least it’s my stuff and it’s stuff I like,” he says, “there aren’t any agendas here.“ He relies on an immediacy to judge his own music, which also part of the reason he is working a lot faster in the studio today. “It doesn’t really bring anything good to work on the same piece of music for months and months,” he suggests. “You can’t objectively judge it because you heard it a thousand times before.“

He might still find it “hard to judge what other people are going to enjoy,” but having the outlet for his music is possibly more honest than posturing to a trend or other people’s tastes for Marius. “I’m in a position where I don’t need this to make money,“ says Marius which suggests that that the music like “Polaris” and “I Feel Space”, the stuff that makes it onto the label has no hidden agenda. In the Garden is a very personal label and one can sense that from the music. There’s an intimacy to the records that feel like you’re right there in the garden with Marius as he plays and in many ways you are when he’s doing his studio streaming sessions.

Although he still DJs on the rare occasion, Marius reflects that he’s “not too interested” in that aspect of electronic music any longer. He prefers playing live today the where the “risk is higher” and because “going out on limb is fun.” From his pedestal of drum machines, synthesisers and sequencers Marius re-imagines the recorded material for the “slimmed-down” live version as well as playing previously unreleased tracks.

He’ll often spend his early mornings, getting up at 5am to craft new tracks before heading off to work where his 9-5 is occupied working with notable Norwegian artists like Lindstrøm at Gram Art. As we sip at the last of our coffees I wonder if that has any affect on his creativity, working with these established artists day in and day out. He reflects for a short moment but dismisses it outright, what he does as Marius Circus lives on in its own, a one-man show all onto himself.


*Marius Circus will play Badabing this Saturday with Vinny Villbass and you can check out more of his music here.