You know what’s up with Anders Hajem

The history of dance music-collectives stretch as far back as the earliest days of club music. They’ve come in and out of vogue with the peaks and valleys of electronic music’s popularity. Few stand the test of time as egos emerge and personalities clash, but some are successful. They eventually form record labels, and while some members might eventually move on to greater things, it’s while standing on the shoulders of the collective and in rare cases it’s these individuals that strengthen the resolve of the collective as a unit as they rise up together.

I believe Boring Crew Records (BCR)  is such a collective and that Jens Wabø (Perkules), Henrik Villard and Anders Hajem are on the cusp of establishing BCR as a significant entry in the annals of collective history in dance music. A collective however is always better as the sum of its parts, and in BCR we have three producers and DJs that have found an uncanny kindred spirit. Each brings his own strengths to the collective, which in turn has offered the springboard for them all to succeed individually. Anders Hajem is no exception. 

A slew of releases on BCR under his given name and as Clastique as well as a release for Full Pupp has established Anders as the busiest producer in the BCR collective at this moment. In December he released his sixth record for the label, Kjoret Gaar Volume 1, which establishes a new series of releases with an objective crystallising on the dance floor around the 6 tracks. They’re “just raw and dancey tunes with no more thought put into it,” explains Anders about the concept of the mini LP. “The thought is to release more in the same style and I hope to get volume 2 up and running by the end of 2022, maybe with some remixes this time. The plan is to release Kjoret Gaar projects on bandcamp and let people pay what they want and hopefully we’ll be able to release it on vinyl at some point.”

Anders is pleasant and polite when we sit down for a chat. His thoughtful approach to music is counterpointed by a youthful exuberance that lies behind a tempered visage, under a peak cap. His release schedule is eager, but the music doesn’t sound rushed or impulsive. Rather there’s a maturity that belies his 26 years and his relatively recent introduction to club music. 

Anders grew up in Ål, a town “in the middle of nowhere,” in the centre of Norway. The town has “one music store where they sell guitars and other equipment” and with a father that “listened to a lot of deep Purple and Led Zeppelin,” Anders naturally gravitated towards the guitar as a “main instrument” from a young age. He cut his own path through the hairy world of rock, listening to modern day guitar heroes like “Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age.” At a mere ten years of age, he started taking music at school and soon set about playing in bands around his hometown. 

The guitar shop “helped a lot for a small community” like Ål to establish something of a music scene, but electronic music remained a fleeting curiosity and an unknown entity for the young Anders. He had only been exposed to “the tip of the iceberg of electronic music” at home and it was mostly the kind of “cheesy” electronic music we associate with the radio today. “I had some friends that lived in Oslo and had gone to raves, but I never got into that when I lived in Ål,” he remembers. Those friends were mainly into Psytrance and Anders “just didn’t get it.“ It conflated his experience of club music and raves with people clad in loose fitting hemp and stomping along to triplet bass measures in a forest somewhere, but that was all set to change when he eventually moved to Oslo to study sound engineering. 

“When I moved to Oslo, that changed my perspective on electronic music,” says Anders in a serious monotone. He had already been listening to electronic music. The likes of Todd Terje and indie electronic acts like Rival Consoles had piqued his interest in electronic music, but that type of “dreamy synth electronic” music had never made it past the album format however and the club experience still eluded Anders for a time. Spurred on by Todd Terje and his new fascination for synthesisers, Anders eventually started going out in Oslo and it was the formative club experiences, “especially Villa and Jaeger,” where Anders became more “connected to that  kind of music.”

“Once I found out there were a lot of underground genres,” says Anders “it just opened up for me.” He dove deep, bought his first synthesiser and phased the bands out of his life. He realised “electronic music was easier to make on your own” and started making rudimentary synthesiser music.  His first attempts were little more than a drum machine and a single synthesiser as he tried to emulate the likes of Todd Terje and Boards of Canada. You can still hear some those influences in a newer track like 6AM.

He “dove deeper into electronic music and discovered Motorcity drum Ensemble, Gerd Jansen and Honey Dijon” through Boiler Room sets, but it was ultimately when he met Jens Wabø that everything would fall in place for his work as a producer and his skills as a DJ.

“We have a 5g connection,” says Anders through a grin. “Jens is one of those guys I just love playing with.” Anders had been getting into making House music, through Lo-Fi – “it sounded easier to make and not that polished” – but he had not yet gotten the hang of DJing by the time he met Jens. ”Jens was into Djing” however and after a crash course, Anders too “got the hang of it, and fell in love with it.” Once they were more comfortable playing together, they played their first gig at Villa and then the pandemic hit. 

Young enthusiasts like Jens and Anders were stopped dead in their tracks during what would be the prime of any producer and DJ’s career. They could’ve resigned their attempts to the bedroom studio and streaming DJ sets, but they proved to be more industrious than most. They shared a studio and when they weren’t making music, they were DJing.

“We were just hungry for more and started playing at the studio.” Anders then met up with the “rave kids” from back home, whose own tastes had matured beyond Psytrance and incorporated House and Techno too. “They joined and helped out a lot in reaching people” through their concept Rave at Bricks, and eventually those studio sessions grew into small parties that helped establish BCR. 

More “friends joined in on it and it turned into a little community” with Henrik Villard forming a significant piece of the puzzle in establishing BCR as a label. “He helped us just from the experience he had releasing a lot of tunes,” explains Anders. Henrik’s experience in the industry gave them the confidence to establish BCR as a label and in 2021 they released their first record with Anders as Clastique breaking new ground for the trio.

They continued to host parties alongside releases from the collective. In the summer of 2021, while we were still in the midst of the pandemic, “they brought the  speakers outside and played loud and people came.” It  gave people “a place to go,” during a time of lockdowns, “even if you were just six people in the studio drinking beers and listening to good music.” And what do BCR define as good music? “I don’t think we had a sound in mind, but it is based on House music,” answers Anders. ”We love Techno too, but there is a lot of Techno in Oslo and we love House music more so…” BCR established itself as a House music collective.

It’s House music as inclusive as it can be and you can hear it throughout Anders’ own discography. From the broken beats of “Reminiscence” to the soothing melodies of “6AM” to the outer reaches of the Giorgio Mordoder-like sequences running through “Velvet Disco,” Anders Hajem makes House music defined by over 30 years of history informing the genre. Kjoret Gaar Volume 1 is a perfect example of that in its own right, and even while Anders is completely focussed on the dance floor on this release, it’s a broad and inclusive view of the dance floor. 

It’s an attitude that he transported to Full Pupp last year with Flint Eastwood and arriving between a heavy rotation of BCR releases, 2021 was a year of great creative output from Anders Hajem. It only seems to be hitting its stride in 2022. With another release primed for Tromsø outfit Mellom, a desire to have more external artists feature on BCR, and more events planned for the BCR collective, including their residency at Jaeger, 2022 might just see the return of House music in Oslo, spearheaded by this concept. “It’s great to have the opportunity to create that environment for that kind of music to blossom in the Oslo scene,” remarks Anders and as an individual and a collective at the forefront of this burgeoning scene, there is certainly a new and youthful impetus for it to thrive. 

Anders hopes that it will reach a point where “if you know there’s a BCR party, you know what’s up” and that we can safely assume will relate to any releases coming from the collective and Anders’ solo projects. There is something distinct yet still opaque about BCR and Anders Hajem and in due time it will reveal itself as a determinable force in Oslo’s House music scene.