What feels right: A Q&A with Børre

We speak to Børre about his newly established Kora label; his history with music; and erring on the experimental edge of electronic music ahead of his appearance for Flux

Electronic music has always been about pushing boundaries and conventions. Why try to replicate the sound of a guitar when you can conjure sounds from space? Why placate primitive impulses when you can create rhythms and textures beyond the scope of rational thought and human instincts? It’s been electronic music’s eternal pursuit to give us sounds and structures that have never been heard before and advance our approach to making music. 

In recent years this approach has been stifled by the perfunctory demands of the dance floor in electronic music’s favoured habitat, the club. As it’s risen in popularity, dogmatic tendencies have led down a rabbit hole of standardised forms and practises to a point where even in the age of AI, electronic music has but one design; that of replicating existing, often traditional forms of established genres. 

Exploration is left to the margins, while established forms of Techno and House dominate a scene, but for every mainstream institution there will always be an underground counterpart pushing at the boundaries of known conventions. While any undercurrent trend has been all but decimated by Techno’s popularity in recent years, there are still people toiling at the fringes and one such person and label is from right here Oslo. 

Børre is an artist working within the wider electronic music scene in Oslo and alongside collectives like Flux and Ute, he’s established his own sound within this musical sphere and it’s not necessarily Techno or Trance. His Label Kora released its first VA in April this year with a truly international cast of artists contributing tracks that go from irreverent ambient creations to gnarling bass exhortations.

Alongside familiar names, Børre contributes to the sprawling sound of Kora where the label and the artist are free to explore new boundaries on personal whims. Two records in already and the label has hit an impressive stride right away, with Asmus Odsat on the first EP a month after the VA. With more to follow soon and a visit from Børre to Jaeger’s basement, we caught up with the artist and fledgeling label boss to find more. 

At about the same time I sat down to type this, you’ve just released the next EP from Kora. Why did you turn to that artist to inaugurate the label’s first release outside of the VA?

I have actually known of Asmus for a couple years. Not on a personal level, but through playing some of his tracks. He has this quirky, weird and playful approach to electronic music that also works really well in a club setting. So I reached out to Asmus to ask if he wanted to be part of the VA, he sent me a bunch of tracks and it went from there. We picked one track for the VA, and then we started to curate an EP. The EP in itself differs a lot from the VA.  I would consider it to be more of a “summery” EP. Even a bit cheesy at times, but in a clever way. I really like that about it

That VA you mentioned is a sprawling collection of tracks that dive deep into experimental waters. It defies categorisation for the most so even when things are ambient or Techno, it avoids the homogenous trends of those genres. What is at the heart of the sound or ideology of the label for you? 

My ideology for the label is very simple: To release the music that I love and feels like it deserves to be shared with the world, not depending on genre or function at all. And of course that might sound a bit obvious, but that is what I want to do, and why I started the label. My goal is for Kora to become a platform where I could just as well release an experimental jazz album as I could release a techno 12”. Even though it of course naturally revolves around electronic music, as that’s where I come from and where I spend the most time. 

You’ve come out strong with two releases in a short space of time. What were the circumstances around the creation of the label?

I have thought of starting a label for years. It has been something I wanted to do for a long time. Now the time feels right, I like where I am in the musical universe right now, I feel like I have landed a bit, and I’m where I want to be in terms of creating and managing a label. 

There was a heightened interest for this kind of music with labels like Raster Noton, PAN and to some extent leading the charge ten years ago, but then it got kind of swallowed up by Techno’s dominance. Why did you feel the time was right to establish Kora now?

I don’t necessarily feel that the time is more or less right now. The time will probably never be right for this kind of music. The majority of people will never be attracted to this music in the same way as I am. For me it’s as easy as this is the music I love, and therefore feel like I want to share it, shape it, and help bring it to more people. I feel like electronic music is kind of in a shapeshift now, especially when It comes to the club aspect of it. The last years (especially in Scandinavia) it has been dominated by trance and faster & harder techno. I feel like it’s starting to move into a more openness towards music that is more abstract and not always 4×4, also in a club setting. At least to some degree. 

On the VA, you too provide a more percussive beat-driven contribution. There’s obviously some connection to the dance floor. What is the label’s relationship to the club? 

I don’t want Kora to become a label that is purely music for the clubs, but the relationship with the club will always be there and will probably always be very obvious in some way. Personally I find club music to be an incredibly exciting form of music. Club music in general has a main purpose, and that is of course to get people to move, dance and sound good on a big rig. Around that you can pretty much do whatever you want. I really like that whole approach to music.  

Peder Mannerfelt is the other artist on there providing more of a dance-floor focussed track. As one of the more established artists on the roster, what does he represent for Kora and how did he arrive at the label?

Peder Mannerfelt is an artist I have been an admirer of since I first got into electronic music. The way he approaches club music represents why I find club music so exciting. He has these amazingly weird and left field tracks, that at the same time works so well on a dancefloor. And he never stops exploring new sounds. How he ended up on the first Kora release is a rather boring story though. I sent him a DM on Instagram, sent him some music and it went from there. 

Between Sweden, Copenhagen, France and Norway your collection of artists on Kora stretches across a large region. How do you find artists for the label?

In some way or another I stumbled across their music – mostly online. 

What’s your personal history with electronic music and how did evolve into DJing and production form your first experiences with the artform? 

When I was about 14 I got really really into hip hop. I bought some equipment and pirated a copy of Ableton, and started making beats. That kind of evolved into exploring more left field hip hop and beat music. I got really into Flying Lotus and that whole LA Brainfeeder kind of thing. That opened up the door to explore a wide variety of electronic music. I got into more IDM stuff like Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Autechre; the obvious ones. The obsession with electronic music kind of developed from there. Then I started going to clubs in Oslo, and of course that got me into more club-oriented music and eventually I started DJing and hosting some parties. 

In keeping with what I’ve heard from the rest of Kora, your own music likes to skirt the margins of experimental electronic music. What are your instincts when it comes to making music and what laid the foundation for those explorative tendencies in your music?

It’s just my musical preference. When I make music I more often than not have no clear plan of what I’m going to make beforehand. I pretty much always just go with the flow. I think the  eagerness to explore sounds has been something that has been with me since I started making music, and also something that is totally necessary for me to keep enjoying making and playing music. The most exciting part of music for me is to find something new, something you feel is untouched and unexplored. Even though that’s not something I have in mind when making music, I think that it’s something I am unconsciously striving for in a way.

Some of the DJ mixes I’ve heard perpetuate that kind of attitude in terms of the music you select, but at some point especially in the club context you have to draw a line when it comes to playing that kind of thing. Where does that line exist for you?

It can be tricky sometimes. I think for me, I just play what I feel makes sense in that specific moment and not try to overcomplicate it. Djing has, in some sense, become more of like a concert sometimes, which gives more freedom to do what you want. But most often I am playing a venue where 99% of the people are there just to party and dance, not because of you as an artist.

Of course I always try to in some extent play in my own sound, and to challenge the crowd, but I am also there to make people dance, so I can’t always drop a 10 minute weird beat-less track just because that’s what I would like to hear at that moment. In the end I think it’s about finding that spot between not being afraid to try what you want to do, but also respecting that most of the time it’s not about you, but about the party. And as I said It totally depends on the setting you are playing in.

Which came first for you, DJing or making music and do you feel there should be a sonic connection between the two?

Producing definitely came first for me. I started making music when I was about 14, and did not start to DJ until I was about 20. I feel like there always will be a sonic connection between the two. I have my way of thinking about music, and in the end I like what I like, so there will always be a sonic resemblance to some degree. I always admire DJ’s that can do it all though. I feel like a truly good DJ can play a calmer daytime party at 120 bpm, and then go play at 160 bpm in a dark basement, and one should still be able to somewhat hear that it’s the same DJ playing. 

What about the label, do you feel it should represent what you do as an artist or DJ, and conversely do you try to communicate that again through our own music and DJ sets?

I think to some extent the label will be a representation of me as a DJ, yes. Not in the way that I will play all the music I release, or even all the types of music I release. It will probably resemble my DJ sets in the way that I am a bit all over the place when it comes to DJing; As I am when it comes to music in general. 

I’m into so many types of music, and also DJ a lot of different types of music, and even though it will be somewhat aesthetically similar it will also differ vastly in style and purpose. That is definitely gonna be the case with Kora as well.

The label is only a couple of months old so I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Has the first few releases lived up to expectations? 

Yes! The first release has been very well received.

Has it perhaps influenced the way in which you will approach the rest of the releases and the future of the label?

 Not really. For now I will continue to just go with the flow and do what feels right to me.  

What else is the foreseeable for Kora and yourself that you’re eager to share?

There’s a lot of exciting things coming up. For Kora there´s first and foremost Asmus Odsat’s full 12” that will release sometime late July/early August along with a remix by Sputnik One. I was in the studio just last week finishing up the mixing of a project that we are releasing this fall. Also have planned two other very exciting projects that will arrive late 24 and early 25. I am also gonna release my own EP somewhere in there. That will also be on Kora. 

Lastly, can you play us out with a song?

Dmitry Krylov – Age Of Aquarius Ft. Kostya Molokanov.  

One of the less clubby tracks on the first Kora VA, but also one of the most exciting for me. Dmitry will have a full project out on Kora this fall. He is really one to look out for.