The winter solstice is upon us. Outside my window I spot a glimpse of Jæger’s backyard (Bakgård). A thin film of pure white snow coats the brown terracotta tiles, burying invisible footprints beneath the cold. It was only a few months ago that we were still scurrying about outside with reckless abandon to the sounds of DJs and artists from all across the world. Those incorrigible among us still brave the weather every Saturday to the tune of guilty pleasures selected by MC Kaman, but for the most of us, we’ve staked our claim down in the cozy enclave of the basement. The year is not over; a christmas, a festival and a new year’s party, still awaits, and for a fair few of us, the year never really ends. It’s an immutable loop with no end, no beginning, just the same procedure as every year… James.
In a couple of weeks Jæger hosts the first event of the next year with the same kind of fervour that follows us through each and every week, but should auld acquaintances be forgot, for the sake of a new year, the next month or simply a new day. Can we just take moment to reflect on the year it’s been for Jæger, Oslo’s DJ community, the music and the culture.
Has it been almost year again since Moritz von Oswald and Tony Humphries graced us with their presence? Two legendary figures from the opposite ends of the world, from different musical origins in the same booth in the space of a month. The Disco and House goliath, Tony Humphries represents the legacy of those genres, which Nicky Siano would put into perspective later in the year with Hallelujah Disco; a narrative through the history of Disco and House music from another monolith of the scene. 2018 however, would prove to be Techno’s year, with Moritz von Oswald setting the tone for the year ahead dotted with acts like Octave One, Carl Craig, Dr. Rubinstein, Shed and Ben Sims. Roland Lifjell and Filter Musikk facilitated a few of these Techno-centric events and in some of the truly special occasions the man behind the counter and the records, Roland Lifjell would grace us with a set.
Techno was harder, faster and more tenacious than it’s ever been in 2018. Bold, intrepid beat arrangements and aggressive, DIY textures conjured from despotic machines streamed out of Berlin and into every club around the world, and even we had to submit to its power. Silent Servant, Regis, Reeko and Tommy Four Seven were the DJ ambassadors of this sound, while Aurora Halal, Octave One and Bjarki left their artistic impressions on us in the form of their live sets, but none rattled the cage and ruffled the feathers quite like The Mover, when he stopped by for the newly launched Gatavisa showcase back in September. It was a sound that captured the dissent and the anger in a world dominated by populist politics.
Yes we had our fair share of trying times in 2018 as policy makers spread their cancerous rhetoric through much of Europe and the rest of the world. It was the year of Trump and Brexit and even club culture fell victim to the populist nationalism that informed these news fixtures in 2018. Our neighbours, Blå were the victim of a terrorist attack executed by an individual under the influence of a populist ideology, while our friends in Georgia, Bassiani faced a government crackdown, the likes of which they haven’t seen since the soviet era. The latter however lead to one of the most inspiring scenes of solidarity through music that we’ve experienced since the UK passed the criminal Justice act. The “We dance together, we fight together” campaign has seen Bassiani resume operations in 2018 and as similar protests pop up around Europe in France and Hungary, the hope is alive that we can stem the tide of nationalist populism sweeping over Europe.
It’s a shame politics has infiltrated club culture like it has in 2018, because in the end it is about the music and leaving these issues at the door, the indulgent escapism of a moment and a music shared amongst a group of strangers. While guests have frequented us, it’s the residencies that have remained the constant bridge between music and community. They are the glue that holds us together. The theatrics of Den Gyldne Sprekk and DJ Lekkerman; the deep musical obsession of Øyvind Morken for Untzdag, the community of Det Gode Selskab; the guilty pleasures of Nightflight; the determinism of Brokesteady and Mandagsklubben; the legacy of Daniel Gude and RETRO; the continual motivation of a scene at Ivaylo’s Jæger Mix, and G-Ha & Olanskii’s window to the world in Frædag have remained steadfast in their onerous pursuits week in and week out without fail.
We’ve experienced the entire spectrum of music this year at Jæger from the burgeoning trendsetters like DJ Seinfeld and Ross from friends, to the established veterans like Marco Passarani, Nick Höppner, Mr. Scruff, Francis Harris, Craig Richards and too many more to mention. Finnebassen and Leon Vynehall, honorary Jæger residents have made return visits in 2018 while DELLAs Drivhus, Karima F’s Affirmative Action, Charlotte Bendiks’ IRONI, Vinny Villbass’ Badabing and Prins Thomas have all set up shop across our two floors to offer some needed contrast over a Saturday night.
Our record shelf is almost full with records acquired from Filter Musikk, and music from Hubbabubbaklubb, Sex Judas, and Kuuk have made severe impressions on our playlist. 2018 is also the year we’ve established The Cut with Filter Musikk, our very own singles club, with the records that have been making the rounds on the Oslo circuit. A record from DJ Hell got us into trouble with those authoritarian sensors at facebook, while we’ve discovered a host of new artists like the Burrell Connection, Giant Swan and O/H as well as some classic reissues and new music from the likes of André Bratten, Rulefinn, Fett Burger and Telephones.
The music, both off and on the dance floor had been so diverse this year, and the DJs had been serving up a smorgasbord of music from the three corners of electronic music all year long. The closest we’ve come to a scene had been the dying embers of Lo-Fi, which turned out to just be House music with DJ Seinfeld and Ross from Friends rising to popular heights this year with DJ sets from the former and an album and live show from latter making a formidable impact on the global scene. And yes, we had them were here too.
Thanks to G-Ha & Olanskii’s Frædag we’ve had the world on our doorstep and we’ve been spoiled in Oslo this year as internationally acclaimed DJs became more and more accessible and our little venue, offering the contrast from the large vacuous spaces from the rest of Europe that bring these larger than life DJs and artists back to the roots of it all. An intimate cabin space nestled in the subterranean depths of the city in the bosom of a 10 000 watt Funktion One system can never really compete with the 1 000+ arena venues that are dominating the scene but we’ve happily held our own, and we’ll continue to hold our own through to the end of this winter solstice and beyond…