Marius Sommerfeldt is back. The other half of De Fantastike To is releasing records again under the eponymous Sommerfeldt with a couple of notable releases in the last year. While he’s remained a fixture in Oslo’s DJ booths throughout, most notably as a member of the UK-leaning Løkka FM collective, his output from the studio has been limited until 2022 “Colours” on Paper Recordings and reinforced by the most recent “Tell me What to do” via Vinny Villbass’ label, Badabing.
“Tell me What to do” sees him working with Løkka FM colleague, Toshybot (legs 11) in a signature Norwegian House aesthetic bridging worlds between US House, UK Garage and Space Disco. Toshybot’s baritone rides ebullient synthesisers, bubbling in the lower regions crisscrossing the trellis-like percussive section.
Last year’s “Colours “ saw him rely on the same formula with vocals supplied by Sigmund Floyd on this occasion. Textures evoked a dreamy soundscape through a dazzling haze of synthesisers that seemed to arrive on a milky cloud.
There are obvious similarities between his and Mikkel Haraldstad’s 2010 breakout track “Neste Stopp Morra Di” in as much as it maintains that infectious “Norwegian House” formula, but it’s updated for a modern dance floor. Besides a change of name and a new palette of sounds, Sommerfeldt carries the same spirit in his music and finds the artist refining his sound in collaborating with other artists yet again.
What is it about these collaborations that bring out the best in Sommerfeldt and what does this new era in music define for the Norwegian artist? We sent over some questions to Marius via email to find out more as he prepares for his upcoming visit to Jaeger for Olle Abstract’s LYD.
Is it fair to say that you were on a musical hiatus as an artist for a while, and what were some of the determining factors for that break?
That is fair to say. And truth to be told, the break was all about finding my own sound as an artist. I’ve been working with people in groups most of my career, so I spent some time searching for inspiration and developing my own sound.
What is the current status of De Fantastike To?
It’s currently on hold, but we might go back in the studio again. We’ve been talking about it, but I guess that life just happened for both of us.
And what eventually brought you back to making new music as a solo artist?
The never-ending fascination of making music. I have so much music in my head that needs to come out! It’s kind of an obsession, really. Fine-tuning a kickdrum or adding some reverb on a synthline is meditative.
How do you feel your solo stuff differs from DFT’s work?
There is a slightly more jazzy aspect in DFT’s productions. A good combination of Rave-Enka and Sommerfeldt in there, I would say.
In between you were still DJing and it seemed most of your efforts were concerned with the Løkka FM project. How did you arrive in that collective and what was it about the UK sound specifically resonated with you?
We were just four people having a strong relationship towards british club-music. We met over a couple of beers and started talking about the lack of a proper UKG night in Oslo. Needles to say, we did something about it! I mean, UK did the American house-sound, but on steroids…
What’s not to like?
How has it informed your work beyond the DJ booth and in the studio?
I’m producing house, but with a pretty huge amount of swing in basically everything. I even did a upcoming remix for Center Of The Universe and Nikki Oniyome, which is pretty similar to garage
One of the people that was involved there with you, Toshybot, also makes an appearance on your latest Badabing record. And this is not the first time you’ve both worked in the studio together. What planted the seed for this creative collaboration, and besides adding vocals to your tracks, how has he influenced your work?
We have been friends for a long time, and music-wise he introduced me to stuff I haven’t heard before. It’s just a joy to work with him, and our studio-sessions are so much fun!
On your 2022 record Colours, for Paper Recordings you also featured a couple of vocalists in the form of Sigmund Floyd and Nora. What is it about the vocal craft that draws you to singers in your music?
I love working with vocals! It’s even more complicated in terms of leaving room and space for a vocalist in a track. I mean, vocals can be at times horrible in a club-track, but when done correctly it just makes sense, right?
What do you look for in a vocalist?
Some edge, a roughness, soul, I mean the voice goes deeper than just singing the right notes! I usually leave some happy accidents in there from the sessions. Sigmund did a first take on our latest release, and he did miss slightly in a part towards the end, we were just.
Nah.. fuck it!
At what point does the vocalist enter into your creative process and how much input do you have in the writing process including the lyrics?
It differs, I usually do the sketch of an instrumental and send the rough demo. Then we do maybe a rec session or two while I finish the production, constantly sending the vocalist new versions for approval.
You worked with Sigmund Floyd (Palace of Pleasure) who is also in Legs 11 with Toshybot. What is your relationship with that crowd and are there any plans to work more with the people behind those two groups?
Yeah. They are my friends. I love those guys! We used to share studio as well…
I’ve never played in a band before, so we might form Legs 12? A collab would be really cool!
They are very much in that indie electronic pop world, while your work very much lives in the House music circles. Where is the crossover between these two worlds for you?
I like independent music! Both genres usually work with synths, drum-machines combined with organic instruments. It feels playful and live.
What first got you interested in House music and how has it developed to this point?
My brother’s cd-collection and Olle Abstract on P3 as an early teenager. I mean House-music? It was out of this world right? Made by machines, computers and stuff, it was like a one-man band. Needles to say, I absolutely loved it!
Your sound on a record like Tell me What to at times flirts with that Norwegian nu-disco aesthetic. It’s very ethereal at times, with dubby rhythms and charming arpeggios floating through the record. What kind of influence has that Oslo scene played in your own development as an artist if any?
I guess I try to produce house, but I don’t like that way too formulaic stuff, so I just throw in a lot of my influences to make it interesting for myself and hopefully, the listener. I guess I’m a product of the DJ / Oslo scene in that way. We usually have to include different genres, tempos and styles,otherwise me, and the crowd get bored.
What do you consider the effects of people like Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas and Todd Terje on the artists that came after them, artists like yourself?
They paved the way for a quirky more leftfield Norwegian approach to club-music. DIY stuff, I mean it’s a hard country to break trough, producing underground electronica. They just did it by themselves. That still inspires me!
What have you taken from that scene that came before you into the music that you are making today, and how have you made it your own in your opinion?
It has always been a huge inspiration as the early generation paved the way for disco, house and techno in a country which is ultimately pretty remote. Prins Thomas was even the first person who signed us as the now defunct Sommerstad (together with Mikkel Rev) That helped me alot in terms of my career and also the way I work with and hear music.
After a few singles/EPs over the last two years, what’s next for Marius Sommerfeldt and what is the ultimate goal for you when it comes to making music?
First of all, this is what I want to do. I had other jobs in my life, but music is my passion. I keep getting better, and I’m slowly taking my studio-setup to the live-stage. I’m testing the setup abroad in Lisboa this September.
I want to record an album, hopefully at my cabin this autumn with Sigmund Floyd.
I’m also releasing a new EP, a remix and some more tracks as Sommerbad (me and Boblebad) and also on Full Pupp as Cocktail Sport (with From Beyond and Boblebad) So to summarize it: make tracks, DJ, travel, play live and generally have a good time doing it!