At times it feels like the entire Norwegian electronic music community is operating underground. At its most successful artists pluck away at the fringes of some indie mainstream, but for the most part, Norway’s reclusive scene is always bubbling under the surface of everything else.But for a select few there’s a level even below that, where they toil away, completely independently of a specific scene or music.
Since the early 2000’s Ost & Kjex and Truls and Robin have been four such figures in Norwegian electronic music and now they’ve channeled their combined efforts into shining a light on the greater Norwegian underground electronic music scene via their label Snick Snack Music for their first compilation record, Snick Snack Volume 1.
Snick Snack volume 1 assembles a stellar list of some leading characters operating in the obscure sections of electronic music in Norway and mostly in Oslo. It’s a diverse group of artists that move through introspective Techno, “midi Punk,” exotica electronica and dance floor bangers through 10 tracks that centre around the dance floor.
From the brooding melancolica of Helene Rickhard to the raw discotronika of whalesharkattacks, the compilation covers a broad spectrum of electronic music voices covering every imaginable style. With no one particular scene or musical genre tying these artists together the compilation showcases the vast area of disciplines in Norway’s electronic music arena with a little bit of everything for even the most discerning listener.
Øyvind Morken and MC Kaman’s newly established Wildflowers collaboration and Mungolian Jetset provide the unexpected while Center of the Universe and Ost & Kjex deliver fine examples of what they do best. New artists and collaborations like OKIOK break new ground alongside the more established artists on the compilation, marking a continuation of that Norwegian melodic attitude that has stayed the course throughout the country’s musical history. Snick Snack draws a red thread from the past to the future, with a sound that remains cohesive, albeit varied.
There’s that singular Norwegian charm that permeates through the whole release and even when it gets serious like with Bendik Baksaas’ introverted Techno as art experiment or Karolinski’s dub Techno explorations, there’s something amenable and engaging with the music. At its most accessible Truls & Robin deliver a track set to storm the dance floor this autumn, but in its entity the compilation unfolds like any club night in Norway, and as if to prove that point Snick Snack Vol.1 ends in a mix from one of Oslo’s leading club music figure-heads g-HA.
g-HA wrangles these diverse tracks into a 48 minute exploration of the compilation in a way only he could interpret it. He turns the compilation on its head and inside out as he puts that definitive g-HA touch on the mix and a new unique perspective on the tracks that just transpired.
The compilation sets a tone for the future of Snick Snack and brings together a group of artists that continue to work independently from any scene or style, but make a solidified claim to the Norwegian underground like few compilations before it. We’re curious how Ost & Kjex and Trulz & Robin would develop this further, and what if anything set the wheels turning for this particular compilation and these artists. So with that in mind we shot a few questions over to Tore “ost” Gjedrem from the label via email.
This release has been touted as a showcase of Norway’s underground scene. How would you define Norway’s “underground scene” at the moment?
A sleeping, party-ready dwarf.
The music is incredibly diverse, but is there anything in the sound or the artists (besides the fact that it represents underground) that ties it all together for you at Snick Snack?
For me the Norwegian sound has always been exactly that, diverse. It’s both our strength and weakness if I dare say so. Weak in the sense that the sound is hard to pin down, marked and sell. Strong in a the sense that it’s individualistic and diverse. All the producers I know here are almost a style of their own. From Trulz & Robin’s acid house to the goth induced sounds of WHALESHARKATTACKS. Much comes down to the size I guess. You can fit two times Norway’s population into London alone. Naturally we don’t have the numbers to cater to all the micro genres that make up today’s scene. Living for instance in Berlin, I imagine you can spend a whole life within a club music community. Here you’re best friends are likely into something else than you. Another factor would be the eclectic music taste of many of senior dj’s and producers. The story of the Norwegian Nu Disco sound has been told many times, but one should not underestimate the influence of Pål Strangefruit, Dj Sunshine, Dj Malin, Rune Lindbaek, Bjørn Torske, Erot, Olle Abstract’s eclectic dj-sets in the late 90’s. There has always been a fine tradition here of sharing music, knowledge and even gigs among your fellow musicians. We got so many great music tips from them thru the years.
Up until now the label has mainly been a vehicle for Ost & Kjex and Trulz & Robin. What encouraged you to get these artists together and release this compilation?
The ever growing quality of our friends’ work and the fact that little has been documented as a whole lately. We thought it would be a good idea to take the temperature of the current scene.
Was there a specific track or artist that got the wheels turning for this release?
No, the chicken came first in this case.
At what point did it start coming together as a compilation, and were there any obstacles in getting all this music?
We started planning this a couple of years ago, maybe in 2019. The only obstacle would be the slacker attitude of us Norwegian artists. We move dangerously slow, almost at the verge of self extinction. Ost & Kjex in particular.
Was there any back and forth between the label and the artists about the music, or was the music ready in each case?
The music is left entirely up to the artists, so we put out what they sent us. We know them all to be the best of music freaks, so we never worried about that. Only guideline was to make a club-ish tune.
Is there a track/artist that didn’t make it on there that you regret not having there now?
We would have loved to have a tune by our friend Charlotte Bendiks, as she is the BOMB!
I think the surprise track here for me, is from Mungolian Jetset. I wasn’t expecting that from them. I know it would be impossible to play favourites, but was there something that was particularly pleasantly surprising on this compilation?
Yes, their contribution goes to show the diversity of Pål and Knut as producers. They know and love a lot. The notion that Strangefruit or even Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm are just disco guys is a bit off. They do it all, from house, ambient, techno, exotic and beyond.
I love all the tunes of course, but got a soft spot for Center of the Universe’ oriental inspired lo-fi sounds, Karolinski’s deep dub techno roller, Helene RIckhard’s dreamy breakbeats and Wild Flowers proto-house gem Coconut Grove. But as I said, love ‘em all!
And then there’s the mix by g-HA, a perfect way to round it all off. What was the idea behind having a mix, and why g-HA?
G-ha was a natural decision as he is the DADDY of house music in Norway. He has done so much for us in the past and is a dear friend. This was a tiny way of showing him some respect, and also a chance to get the Snick Snack music mixed by one of our favorite djs.
He pulled it off and set a very atmospheric mood in the way he put these tracks together. Was there any direction coming from the label for the mix and did it change anything in the music for you after listening back to it in the form of a mix?
There was no direction from us, we knew he would do a perfect job. His mix certainly made us see more clearly how this music fits together and as you say he brought out the atmospheric mood. Maybe it’s a bit of a Norwegian flavour we’re hearing. The dark winters and all.
Snick Snack volume 1 suggests this is just the beginning of a series. Do you already have volume 2 cards and what will you be looking for in future tracks for the comp?
Indeed we do, plans are already materialising for Vol. 2. We will be looking for strong individual artists for the next one as well, I don’t think we have to look too far.
Will we also see some individual releases from some of these artists coming through Snick Snack in the near future?
We have many dreams for the label, but they are all dreams at this stage. Hopefully in time, we will develop Snick Snack into a hub for Norwegian electronic music and be able to release music by many of these artists. There are also some old and forgotten Norwegian, electronic tunes and albums that would be fun to reissue. Time will show. Dreaming on…