Tonarunur & Private Agenda tell us about their fab collab ‘Suspended In Motion’

Tonarunur

Chris Massey talks to Tonarunur about his brilliant collaboration ‘Suspended in Motion’ with Private Agenda and how the project came together with a tease about future projects I feel, bring it on, Gauti!

With such a distance between all 3 of you, can you let us know how this collaboration came about and a little about the working practice?

I had been following PA’s work for some time. One day I decided to contact them to see if they were willing to provide vocals for one of my tracks. Much to my amusement, they were willing to do so. Not only did they sing, but they also co-wrote the track. The melody and lyrics are entirely theirs.

Did you each bring something individual regards experience or specific studio skills, or was it very much a collaboration all along the way?

I made the instrumental version, and PA took it from there on…The initial version was slightly different, though, way more “fruity”. Fortunately, we did some cut-downs for the track, and as a result, the track has this “minimal, dreamy and floaty” vibe. Or I certainly hope that is the case!

What would you say your influences (if any!) had been when working on Suspended In Motion?

When I started working on the instrumental version I was going for some “Imagination’s Just An Illusion but heard from a distance” vibe…If that makes any sense. The track sounds like it could work well in some form of live set-up & performance, is that something that had/has been considered? That hasn’t been discussed, but who knows…

Is it the first of many collaborations between Tonarunur & Private Agenda?

The same goes for that one. We haven’t talked about it, but since it was a pleasure working with PA, I wouldn’t say no to another collaboration!

Lastly, favourite studio snacks to crunch on whilst working?

I try to avoid snacks whilst working because it tends to distract me from the music. But if I had to choose one it would be some sort of chocolate filled with liquorice.

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Marius Sommerfeldt – UnPlugged

Photo: Thomas Ekström

Marius Sommerfeldt, Norwegian electronic producer, marketer and event promoter, was interviewed last week about what is floating his boat. Thanks, Marius, your EP rocks!

1. You’ve had a few different production aliases, with each one being pretty significantly diverse from the other. From the deeper acid squelch of the De Fantastiske To productions to the Garage-esque sounds of Trudee Nite, where would you say you get your influences from, and where does the Sommerfeldt project differ from previous?

Yeah, it’s been a few over the years. The inspiration comes from my record collection, DJ style, taste in music and my surroundings. The Sommerfeldt alias is 100% my playground as a solo producer, and it’s a bit more straight-up house and atmospheric than the other productions. I figured I needed a name to put out my productions and not hide behind just another weird alias.

2. The new E.P. (for us!) definitely carries what we call that ‘classic Paper sound’, yet it still retains something that is quintessentially Norwegian about it. Where do you see the Norway sound now, and would you say there are any specific characteristics that you personally work into your productions?

Thank you, guys! I’m a huge Paper fan, you know. The Norwegian sound is slowly taking its turn towards a new generation of producers and DJs; their non-existing boundaries of how to do stuff and what is «right» or «not» is refreshing! All the club genres are melting in house, techno, trance, UK-garage, breakbeat and even hardcore & jungle.. everything is allowed!

3. What is your work ethic in the studio? Do you just tend to go with the flow, or do you try to get certain elements done each day/session?

First of all, I always start with the groove, I like to fiddle with the drum machines for an hour or two just to make that perfect drum loop. Then I add the bassline, which I have a tendency to keep pretty groovy and minimal to play in the melodies and atmospheres on top. When it comes to finishing a track I usually swear a lot for the next few hours and probably grab a cold one in the fridge while philosophizing about the meaning of life. Making music has ups and downs, but I always manage to land on both my feet in the end.

4. On this release, you feature both Sigmund Floyd & Nora on some stunning vocal duties. How did those relationships come about, and what was the process of creating the lyrics/vocals? Did you have a specific vibe, or was it very much a ‘do what you want’ scenario?

The tracks were pretty much an instrumental demo when I sent them to Nora and Sigmund. Then a few projects were sent back and forth before we met in the studio for a couple of writing and vocal sessions, and we quickly found the vibe we were looking for, I love them both, they are so professional, creative and fun to work with!

5. Lastly, studio snacks are a necessity for me, and I always like to know what other like-minded music makers munch on when doing a session! Are there any specific Norwegian delicacies you stock up on before hiding away in the studio all day?

Have you tried Norwegian milk chocolate? One cup of coffee, a large plate of Freia milk-chocolate… say no more!

 

Photo: Thomas Ekström

Out the Box: Mike Pickering

Our latest Out The Box features a man who can justifiably claim to have brought house music to the UK. A Manchester legend, he kick-started the acid house revolution at The Hacienda alongside Graeme Park with their ‘Nude’ and ‘Hot’ nights. He went on to win a Mercury Music Prize with his band M-People, took dance music into the charts with Deconstruction and continues to DJ around the world.

PLACE

It has to be the Etihad stadium, the home of the champions Manchester City. I’ve been a City fanatic for nearly 60 years through thick and thin, just as I went with my dad, nowadays it’s me and my son Charlie. We are season ticket holders, and we try to get to as many of the away games as well, especially the Champions League matches, which have taken us all over Europe, usually staying a few days to enjoy the host cities.

Etihad Stadium, Manchester City

FOOD
I love food but am coeliac, so it cuts down the options a little. I tend to have different restaurants for a specific dish I fancy. For the best Dover sole in London, it’s Lemonia in Primrose Hill all day long been going there for 25 plus years; they don’t bother giving me a menu now as they know what I want.

Lemonia - Greek hideaway

For a good steak, it’s Patagonia on Camden high St. Nobody does steaks like the Argentinians, and anywhere with Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez shirts signed on the wall is good enough for me. I like trying new places but have little patience when trying to find one that is not full. I loved Sessions, though; my favourite Italian is Luca in Clerkenwell.

BOOKS
I love books and travelling gives me plenty of time to read. I recently finished “Long Relationships: my incredible journey from unknown DJ to small time DJ” by Harold Heath. This is a must read for anybody who’s been a clubber; it’s brilliantly written and brutally honest.

Harold Heath

I’m currently reading “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon, which ranks in the top 5 books I’ve ever read. An epic tale.

Kavalier & Clay

FILMS
I haven’t been to the cinema much in recent times as I find them uncomfortable and generally not very welcoming places; however, on a recent trip to New York, my daughter introduced me to the films by Jordan Peel, “GET OUT” and “NOPE” which were both really good.

Out The Box: Johnno Burgess

Johnno Burgess

Johnno Burgess has always had his fingers in many pies. He has run club night Bugged Out for nearly 30 years and edited Jockey Slut magazine in the 90s, publishing the first interviews with the likes of Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers. His new print magazine venture, created in cahoots with old-school Jockey Slut crew Paul Benney & Jim Butler, is Disco Pogo which was launched earlier this year and can be found HERE. With very catholic tastes (Johnno used to try and shoehorn Take That singles into after party playlists) outside of techno, he now co-books for London’s Mighty Hoopla pop festival.

Mr Disco Pogo

FOOD
I used to love the Nepalese Gurkha Grill restaurant in Manchester when I lived there in the nineties. I went so often – sometimes three times a week – before I left the city for London in 1999. I went back there about 12 years later and a few of the staff came out of the kitchen to say hello, I felt like a prodigal son! I’ve recently invested in the Nepalese cookbook Ayla by Santosh Shah who you may have seen on MasterChef: The Professionals in 2020. I can’t wait to get stuck in though our local butcher may not stock the offal and wild boar that seems to be popular with Nepalese chefs. I love making curries, they take bloody ages if done properly, stewing the meat, making the base onion sauces but I find it therapeutic to spend a few hours on a Saturday knee deep in cumin.

The Gurkha Grill

MUSIC
I’m slightly obsessed with Confidence Man at the moment. We booked them for Mighty Hoopla in 2019 off the back of their Boyfriend track. They were so energetic that Sugar Bones fell off the stage, and then popped back up covered in blood from the nose he’d just fallen onto to finish the set. Their 2nd album Tilt is packed with wannabe singles and their live show is now unmissable. If you like bands who understand the theatre of pop and the joys of constant vogueing then go and see them!

 

PLACE
The Rose & Crown pub in Kentish Town is my local. They serve craft beers on rotation by brewers like Deya and Verdant. Over lockdown the pub was kept alive by the local community who would queue up every Friday to takeaway a couple of two pint growler bottles. Weird how my taste has completely changed, I drank pints of continental lager like San Miguel for decades and now it’s half a pint of Session IPA. I need to put my ‘readers’ on to check the % on the taps though as they can be as punchy as Special Brew, sometimes clocking up around the 7.5% mark. They had Luke Una’s Verdant collab on tap for what seemed like minutes, it was very popular and was drained rapidly.

mmmmm tasty brew

FILM
I watched Rear Window again recently which is my favourite Hitchcock. I love Jimmy Stewart and his cranky personality shines through as he plays an adventurous photographer trapped in a wheelchair while his leg is in plaster. He becomes a voyeur through boredom furtively spying on his neighbours through binoculars and then witnesses what he believes to be a murder. I used to live in Gainsborough Studios in Hoxton which is where Hitchcock’s early black & whites were filmed like The 39 Steps. It had a similar gated community to Rear Window where you could look out and see your neighbours on different floors from the balcony though I never invested in binoculars! I went to see The Birds screened in a forest as night fell in a London park once which was creepy. I haven’t watched Psycho naked from a shower yet though.

Calder Del Sol Sessions feat. Flash Atkins & Massey

Fast becoming the hottest social gathering in West Yorkshire, Flash Atkins Music’s monthly ‘Calder Del Sol Sessions’ at Barbary’s are bringing a bit of the classic Ibizan vibe to Mytholmroyd in the Upper Calder Valley.

With a soundtrack covering all corners of the record shop provided by Flash & the occasional guests, this after work social shindig is a must for music & craft beer lovers alike.

For the month of June it was Paper’s #1 brew maker Chris Massey Music’s turn to join a top crowd with top musical vibes on the hottest day of the year so far.
It was so good they even made the sunshine instantly disappear pretty much as soon as it started.

Part 1 of the 4 hour mega fest is avail here…tuck in for a fest of sounds of jazz, balearic, cosmic, outsider pop, sun drenched soul, funk, chuggy disco and of course a few choice Paper cuts.

Calder Del Sol Sessions

Flash Atkins is running a new monthly on the Barbary’s terrace throughout the summer in the hills of West Yorkshire.

July 22 is an all African special, Léna C hits the decks on August 19 and the closing party lands on September 23. Expect friendly Northern folk, craft ale and the best music from all corners of the globe.

Out The Box: Chris Massey

Chris Massey seemed the perfect choice to kick off our new ‘Out The Box’ when we ask friends and heroes to tell us about some of the things they love.

Chris AKA The Boy Wonder has been working at Paper Towers for over 10 years and keeps the show on the road while Ben and Pete lounge around in their PJs eating crisps. We have seen him grow from a spotty youth who loved rubbish 80s films into the chiselled hunk of a man he is today who still loves rubbish 80s films.

Chris has carved out a career as one of Manchester’s best loved DJs and party starter as ‘Massey‘, is a damn fine producer and general man-about-town having managed bookings at some of the city’s finest venues including Electriks. He can currently be found event managing at the wonderful Carlton Club when not propping up the bar drinking Vimto out of a straw.

DJ Massey- Paper / Sprechen

Image credit: Slappy Snaps 2021

AND SO OVER TO CHRIS…

Hi, hello, how are you doing…it’s Chris Massey here, fully fledged working class northerner who now resides in Manchester, is still working class but somehow manages to make a living through the crazy industry of music!

Curator, collaborator, label manager, producer, engineer & much more, I fill my days listening to, programming & making music as well as looking for artists to work with on my own Sprechen label and for the mighty ship Paper Recordings. I have been involved with Paper now near enough 10 years now (a space has been cleared in the mantle ready for my carriage clock!) where my duties include overseeing who & what we sign across all 3 label offshoots, running the social media pages, seeking out locations for the annual Christmas do and much more.

Here’s a few things I favour which may have flown under your radar which I wholeheartedly recommend you check out!

BOOK:

Medical Grade Music by Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi
Having booked Steve & Kavus a few times to DJ for me as well as perform with their Utopia String band (who are bloody ace!), I was so excited to finally get this book at Christmas and it didn’t disappoint. 2 blokes from seemingly totally different worlds (one a 6 times world champion snooker player & one from several rock & psych bands) who bonded over music and their journey that brought them together with DJ gigs at Glasto along the way.

Medical Grade Music by Steve Davis and Kavus Torabi

Image Credit: Katie Davies

FILM:

Exorcist III (Directors Cut)
The Exorcist is prob my fave film ever and try as they may, no sequel has ever been anywhere near it (most have just been damn awful!), however the director’s cut of Exorcist III is a really interesting film in that it sticks incredibly close to the original book (called Legion) by William Peter Blatty which for all intents & purposes is more a dark detective noir novel. This is what he went with when he directed the 3rd film which fell victim to studio interference and demands of ‘more horror, it needs spinning heads, an exorcism and of course green vomit!’. The result was a pretty naff film on release with extra scenes filmed just to fit in the textbook exorcism scenes and lots cut from what was originally filmed.

The director’s cut restores all these scenes (most which feature an incredible part by Brad Dourif) which although rough & in work print quality do take the film back to the original source & story and though its nowhere near as good as the 1st film it does stand as a very worthy (though different vibe) film & true sequel. It also has one of THE biggest jump scares ever committed to celluloid.

MUSIC:

Memorex Memories
Being born in 1980 I do have fondness for all things in that era, one of being more modern music that borrows heavily & has plenty of nods to a time before mobile phones ruled out lives. Memorex Memories ticks all these boxes & then some. Not sure how I stumbled across him but I think it was when listening to a ‘Vaporwave’ mix, of which his tracks where the standouts. A quick look round found his page on Bandcamp and opened me up to his insanely good productions which seem to somehow straddle post dubstep with 80’s synth heavy film scores. Really cool & really inspirational…check him out asap. Listen HERE.

Memorex Memories Bandcamp

PLACE

Lords Antiques & Salvage

My parents have recently moved from their home in Bolton to set up a new life a bit further ‘oop north’ in the village of Bentham near Lancaster. Its a stunning little village which has great views & dog walks and which also conveniently now means that we get to have mini weekend breaks whenever we feel the need to get out of dodge!

On a recent trip over to my parents told us about Lords Antiques which sounded amazing and which we instantly planned to visit with the dogs (as its dog friendly!) Its a huge space on multiple floors selling lots & lots of ace old stuff. Not just ‘tatt’ (which is my fave!) but loads of really great interior & exterior salvage. You want heavy marble pillars? No probs! You want a set of animatronic dinosaurs? Just got a full set in stock.

They also have a full room dedicated to taxidermy where one of our dogs took an instant liking to the wild boar skin rug (we just about got him out of there before he ate its ear!).

Well worth a visit to this little known place that’s tucked away in the outer realms of the countryside…plenty to see & do nearby too. Go have a mooch HERE.

Lords Antiques & Salvage

REACH OUT:

@chrismasseymusic (Facebook & IG)
@sprechenmusic (Facebook & IG)

Party For Two

 

Chocolate Rain…Charlie Bit My Finger….Gangnam Style…The Ice Bucket Challenge…Kim Kardashian melting the internet….Flash Atkins’ and Massey’s Party for Two. Prepare to be blown away as two men sit down and play records back to back on a brisk weekday morning. Paper Recordings’ main players snuck in to West Yorkshire’s finest bar, Barbary’s and brought the heat as they weaved through ambient, afro, wonk, desert blues, disco. street soul house and disco. It’s a party on a plate without having to leave your home.

Rob O’Disco

Paper Recordings’ legendary club night Robodisco is back for ‘one night only’ of mayhem as a tribute to fallen friend and Robo hero Rob ‘O Shea.
Robodisco ran in Manchester though the 90s and 00s, earning its status as one of the UK’s best clubs for underground house. Alongside residents Miles Hollway, Elliot Eastwick, Ben Davis and Erik Rug, it hosted some of the world’s finest DJs including Derrick Carter, Josh Wink, Lil Louis, Jaques Lu Cont, Romanthony, Ashley Beedle, Kenny Hawkes as well as showcasing Paper’s homegrown sounds.
This one-off event has some of Rob’s DJ friends to brig the noise and the party, so dust off the Gio-Goi, break out your whistle and start practising your moves. ITS ON!
All profits will go to St Luke’s Hospice.
Elliot Eastwick
Flash Atkins
James Holroyd
Kath McDermott
Little Lever Vega
Matt Triggs
Miles Hollway
Philippa Jarman
Richard Hector Jones
Rob Bright 

Memoirs from Norway’s underground dance pioneers: Joakim Haugland #9

Travelling around Norway in the Spring is a fantastic experience. During my trip in 2013, we hooked up with the key movers and shakers involved in forming the country’s house and disco scenes. I was lucky enough to touch down in Oslo, Bergen and Tromsø, and many weird and beautiful places in the surrounding areas. I travelled with Ben Davis, who was directing the film we were working on, formed from interviews with the key people from the dance scene plus Paper Recording’s label artists such as Those Norwegians. We were also curious about the country, geography, and people and how they influenced each other’s creative passions. This film had a working title of ‘Northern Disco Lights – The Rise and Rise of Norwegian House Music’. During our visit, we spoke to as many of the DJs, producers, promoters and radio stations as we could and decided to publish these best bits that sum up the trip, the film and our findings.

Joakim Haugland is the owner and has been the driving force behind the Smalltown Supersound label for over 20 years. He grew up in the small town of Flekkefjord in Norway’s south; hence his record label’s name: Smalltown Supersound. It has released music from internationally recognised artists such as Kim Hiorthøy, Jaga Jazzist, Neneh Cherry, Bruce Russell, Brian Reitzell, Kelly Lee Owens, DJ Harvey, Mats Gustafsson, Sonic Youth, Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Bjørn Torske and Todd Terje.

Joakim Haugland -Smalltown Supersound

© 2014 Paper Vision Films: Joakim Haugland, Founder of Smalltown Supersound label based in Oslo, Norway.

Were you aware of when dance culture started taking off in Norway?
No, not at all. I would say because I came from indie-rock and punk, I guess. So for me, it was like SST Records, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth, and of course bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Einstürzende Neubauten. When I was younger, I was listening to what was happening in England with Underworld and Orbital. I was kind of like this indie kid. I started working at the distributor Voices of Wonder in Norway and worked in their distribution warehouse for nine months. That was, I think, in the summer of 97 or 98. It was kind of like when the whole house thing blew up with Atlantic Jaxx, Glasgow underground, Paper [Recordings], Nuphonic, NRK, Soma and all these other labels. So I was kind of like putting all these records in parcels! At the warehouse, all the other guys were older than me, and they were always listening to this music. It got into my head at one point, and I brought some of the records with me at home, and I liked it. But I didn’t understand it because I was coming from this guitar world.

After a while, I started promoting Voices of Wonder [VOW] and became label manager for labels like Warp. I got really into that because going from Sonic Youth to Warp is not such a big step. From there, I went gradually more into electronic music and jazz with bands like Jaga Jazzist. All these things led me to Per Martinsen of Mental Overdrive. Via him, I met Lindstrøm when VOW was promoting the Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas album for Eskimo Recordings because we were distributing that for Norway, so I ended up managing interviews for him. We hooked up to grab a coffee, and then we started to work together. I understood that he had the same approach to his music that I had because I had never been this twelve-inch buying DJ myself. He wasn’t that much into indie music; he was more into west coast US psychedelic music from the 70s and Kraut-y stuff. But he was not from what I would call the 12” inch music from London if you know what I mean. So I think that we are more album people, you know what I mean, and I’m still that. I believe that he grew up with that art of the album himself. So I think that that was how we met musically. If you look at his discography, you can see that there are more albums than 12”s, so he is not a twelve-inch kind of guy. I would also say that my goal starting to work with him was to have him promoted into the world of Uncut, Mojo and Wire magazines. And not only take him out of the Mixmag and the DJ magazines because he is very marginal. And it stops at one point. I heard all these influences from psychedelic music, west coast, Kraut and folk music in his music. So I think there is no difference between him and Robert Wyatt. Why should they write about Robert Wyatt and not Lindstrom? They have the same kind of influences, or I feel there is the same kind of feel in the music to say something like Robert Wyatt. He’s not just playing in festivals where people are dancing on the beach and partying and stuff like that. He’s playing at music festivals together with folk and metal and hardcore, and that’s kind of where I think his music should be.

Do you see Smalltown Supersound as a label representing Norwegian dance music?
In a way, the disco and electronic scene is excellent, and the jazz scene and black metal. But outside of that, I don’t find it that interesting. In the beginning, I was kind of trying almost to hide the fact that Smalltown Supersound was a Norwegian label when I was a kid because I started the label when I was 16; it was just tape! There seemed to be an advantage coming from Norway because all the labels are from New York and London. So it was good to be from the outside. I never wanted the label to be just a dance label or only for electronic music. My ideal label would be, and this is nerdy, but like Rough Trade between 1979 and 1981, when there was Cabaret Voltaire, Robert Wyatt and stuff like Arthur Russell.
All these styles mashed up. I don’t want my label to be one sound or genre. If you are just a sound and the sound dies out, the label will die as well. That’s what we saw with labels such as Mo-Wax; when trip-hop was over, the label was over. I’m trying to have this diverse label, but I guess many people see it as a disco label, and I’ve also heard that it’s a jazz label and an indie label. It depends on what’s coming out at the time, and sometimes it’s like a lot of disco music coming out, sometimes a lot of jazz. I want there to be a real [musical] thread within the label holding it together. That’s probably the unique thing with dance music in Norway. Take a guy like Lindstrøm; he’s never listened to much dance music. He’s more into Crosby, Stills and Nash, Fleetwood Mac, psychedelic music or west coast music from the seventies. The same with Prins Thomas, who comes from a punk-rock background. I think that Smalltown Supersound reflects that. I’m from an indie background, and I release dance music, but I also release indie music and jazz.

Northern Disco Lights, Family Tree poster

Do you feel Todd Terje, Lindstrom and Prins Thomas are inspired by pioneers such as Bjørn Torske and thought, “if they can do it, we can’t we do it”?
I think everybody is looking at Bjørn Torske. That’s what I have learned throughout the years; it’s like Bjørn Torske is The Godfather in a way. He was the first. What’s unique is that he lives in his ‘own’ world, so he doesn’t get influenced by trends. I’ve been record shopping with him in Chicago, and he knows exactly what he wants, totally independent of what’s happening on the scene. He’s just in a bubble. I think that’s why his music production is so unique. I don’t think there is anybody around that makes music like him. I would say that he is the pioneer. The sad thing is that he is not the most popular [internationally], but that I guess that’s the way of the world when you are a true pioneer.

Do you think that the landscape and geography influence electronic dance music in northern Norway?
It’s easier to see that from the outside, maybe, but I would say that there’s melancholy in the music. I can see that in Icelandic music, and I can see that in Swedish, and I’m Norwegian. I think it’s in all kinds of Norwegian music. I don’t believe that this style of electronic dance music could be produced in Los Angeles, where the sun is up all the time. We learn to appreciate the sun more in Norway because we don’t see the sun very often. So I think that that’s an essential element. There is a lot of rain, snow and dark season nights and days, which I believe can be found in the mood of the music.

How do you think Norwegian electronic dance music is perceived abroad?
Norwegian dance music is perceived as leftfield. I struggle to understand that because some of the music released on Smalltown Supersound is very commercial. Even when I talk to ‘club heads’ from England, they think that Lindstrøm’s ‘Way You Go’ album is too leftfield and radical. I don’t find that album radical at all; I think it’s a commercial album; however, it does have a 30-minute long track, but it’s beautiful floating music. I don’t see any leftfield elements in it at all, but maybe that’s to our advantage that we don’t know the avant-garde, leftfield style ourselves. Perhaps that’s what makes Norwegian dance music stick out from everything else?

Idjut Boys in Oslo

© 2014 Paper Vision Films: The Idjut Boys DJing in Oslo circa 1998

What are your memories of the Bergen Wave phenomenon?
Mikal Telle has been a friend for many years, and his label, ‘Telle Records,’ was an inspiration. I started Smalltown Supersound before him, but his Telle took off quickly. Smalltown Supersound started growing when I began releasing cassette tapes at a very young age and just learning about the business gradually as the label developed. Smalltown Supersound is a big part of my personality, and it reflects my taste in music. I was inspired by what was happening to Mikal. I don’t envy him that much that it happened so fast, but he has the best taste and is by far the best A&R manager in Norway. Telle Records is a beautiful part of Norwegian musical dance music history.

How did you find out about music, fashion and culture in Norway?
I remember reading a Norwegian magazine when I was a kid and there was an interview with Geir Jenssen [Biosphere] and Per Martinsen [Mental Overdrive]. It was inspiring for me because I lived in a tiny town without the internet. It was impossible to get movies and music, so I travelled to Oslo to buy music and cultural stuff. I began releasing music on cassette tapes and seven-inch vinyl, not knowing what a record company was! So, I read this interview with Geir and Per saying that the only thing you needed to connect with the rest of the world was a fax machine. That sounds strange now, but that’s what they were doing. They were sitting at home in Tromsø, the north of Norway, making music, sending faxes and DAT tapes to R&S Records in Brussels, Belgium. They finally got their music released on R&S Records and distributed to the world. They had international careers, and that was incredibly inspiring to me.

How do you think the producers absorbed the musical and cultural influences?
I think that Geir and Per were inspired by what was happening in the whole world. They took influences from what was happening at R&S Records in Brussels, from London and brought it all home. They absorbed it into their way of producing music, mixing it with Norwegian influences. When you listen to Bjorn Torske, there’s a lot of dub and reggae influences. I don’t know where he got it from exactly, but I think it was the record shopping trips to London and bringing the new music back into the Norwegian scene that makes the sound.

Why does Norway have such a solid connection to the disco genre?
For me, the disco connection links DJ Harvey to Idjut Boys to Bjørn Torske and Erot. If there are any connections between Erot and Bjorn Torske and DJ Harvey, there is a strong connection between the Idjut Boys and Bjørn Torske and Erot. I feel that Harvey and the Idjut Boys are from the same musical subculture that the Norwegians; they are big heroes of Bjørn Torske, Erot and the Norwegian electronic dance music scene. I don’t think there is anything already within Norwegian culture that seems ‘disco-ish. As I see it, the foundation of everything disco is Bjørn Torske and Erot, who think they were the ones who started it. Per and Geir were more into the genre of techno and ambient. Bjørn started making more techno style production, but it changed when Erot and Bjørn started making more house and disco music.

© 2010 Smalltown Supersound: Bjørn Torske, “Kokning”

How did the album with the Idjut Boys come about on Smalltown Supersound?
I felt that they were the inspiration for a lot of the artists on my label. It started when Rune Lindbæk told me about this album with the two of them, ‘Desire Lines’ by Meanderthals. It’s still one of my favourite albums in my catalogue, and it’s timeless. The Idjut Boys behave like Norwegians and have the same mood and attitude, and Dan is even married to a Norwegian. So there were all these connections to Norway, so it felt obvious to release that album. I was delighted to be working with those guys.

Why do you think that there is so much collaboration within the Norwegian electronic dance music community?
Because it’s so tiny, you’re socialising in and around clubs. In the beginning, you had Skansen, and then you had Jazid and then you had Blå. People meet at these places, and then they help and work with each other with the business aspects, the remixes or production. It is so much more significant in London, and I wouldn’t know where to meet these kinds of people, here it’s straightforward. I think it’s also part of the scene’s success because everybody is collaborating, helping and inspiring each other. They are doing it together and sticking together.

Is there competition between the artists in the electronic dance music community?
There is healthy competition as everybody is passionate about being as good as their friends and fellow producers and DJs to become as good as their neighbour. So if you see, some of these people have studios very close to each other and stuff, but I think it’s healthy. I don’t believe that the producers and DJs are wealthy but have been DJs the whole time during their production careers; I guess that’s the business of DJing; it’s the same the world over. But, of course, Norway is an excellent country to live in, and it might have influenced the ability of these guys to produce and buy new music and how they consumed the culture around them.

Do you think the different cities and locations can have different sounds?
I don’t know. There are not so many people in Bergen except for Bjørn and Röyksopp doing this kind of music. They became superstars in that kind of music and went on to make other music. I don’t feel like they are part of this scene at all if it is a scene. I think that Bjørn is in his creative world. He’s kind of in this bubble. I believe that Oslo is the principal city for dance music at the moment. Some of the most recognised producers like Röyksopp, Geir Jenssen and Bjørn Torske came from Tromsø but don’t live there nowadays apart from Per Martinsen!

Do you think the landscape in Tromsø has had an effect on the music from there?
For Biosphere, obviously, it had, because of this kind of cold, ambient thing. I’d also say it for the cold techno music. So it’s pretty weird that they are making warm house and disco music because it has nothing to do with the ice-cold and nature you see in Tromsø. So maybe the answer to your question is that all these people moved from Tromsø to Bergen.

How did you hook up with Todd Terje?
He works in a neighbouring studio of Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, and I knew him through friends. Since the start, he’s been part of the scene, and everyone knows everybody as it’s so tiny! I was surprised by the success of Todd’s ‘Inspector Norse’ in many ways because it was a beautiful thing that happened without us spending a lot of money to make it happen. It became massive with just word of mouth. Just the way we wanted it. It was just Terje, and I am doing all the work on our own. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was making such a global impact without a budget and just the two of us doing the promotion. It is an EP, it’s not an album, and EPs are harder to promote because you don’t get all the reviews that you usually get in the big broadsheets and music magazines. It was a long process, but because it is such a great track, people started to talk about it, and then it happened, blew up. It is a lovely process to witness. Todd Terje is from the dance world, so I don’t think that albums inspire him in the same way that Lindstrøm has been. As a DJ, he knows what works on the dancefloor and makes dancers feet move. I guess this is similar to Prins Thomas, as he comes from a punk-rock background.

© 2015/2001 Smalltown Supersound/Tellé: Bjørn Torske, “Trøbbel”

Do you think the success of these artists (Röyksopp, Todd Terje, Lindstrøm) has now made it easier for Norwegian artists to be successful internationally?
I would hope that Bjørn Torske and Mungolian Jetset [Pål “Strangefruit” Nyhus and Knut Sævik] could be famous as well, but it’s those three who get the headlines. I would say that Bjørn Torske is out on his own, and that’s what makes him so unique.

What do you see as the future of Norwegian dance music?
Some younger producers make this kind of music, but I feel you need life experience and an extensive record collection to produce the sound they create because it’s an advanced, complex style of music. It’s light-years away from what I would call ‘head banger’ kind of music. There’s no fuss and turning the volume up to 11. The music is not just about dropping ecstasy and dancing. I think that this scene is accidental. Behind it are many years of DJing, playing in bands, and developing an extensive record collection! To use a football analogy, the goalkeeper always get better the older they get, between 30 to 36 years old. It’s a peculiar thing. The rest of the team is peaking, maybe 24 or 25, so the disco scene is more like the goalkeepers; they are getting better the older they become. So I think there is a bright future for these guys like Todd Terje, Hans Peter Lindstrøm, and Prins Thomas because I don’t think age will influence their music production careers. You can see with the Idjut Boys and DJ Harvey; they get better and better. So I don’t think it’s true that you are too old to play or produce this dance music. On the contrary, I believe that the older you are, the better you become!

Do you feel supported by the Norwegian media?
It’s an underground scene, but I would say as the journalists are really supportive, the artists get good reviews and press coverage. When I started to promote Lindstrøm’s album at VOW, we told the most influential press and media that he was remixing Madonna to encourage them to write about him; it worked! I had to use a little trick to get the press to write about the album. It seems easier nowadays because Norway is perceived as an ‘underdog’ type of country punching above its weight. Our population is only 5 million, so every time a Norwegian does anything ‘good’, even in chess or in football, you get a lot of attention. Even more so with music. So if you get attention abroad, you will get attention at home. That’s how it works.

What is your favourite Norwegian record?
Biosphere’s ‘Patashnik’ album meant a lot to me when I was young. It was produced early in Norway’s dance music history; he was Norwegian, and it had a Norwegian sound. It sounded like he was part of the same world as Aphex Twin, The Orb, Orbital and Underworld. If I had to choose a single track, it would be ‘I Feel Space’ by Hans Peter Lindstrøm because the tune has been so influential. It’s like a classical composition.

Who is your favourite Norwegian producer?
Bjørn Torske has been there from the very beginning, and Lindstrøm because he keeps on producing new music and is evolving the whole time. He always takes it to the next step so that none of his production ever sound the same. So I think that in 10, 15, 20 years, you will be able to look back and see a coherent thread through his music but with a good dose of diversity.

Your favourite Norwegian club?
That’s easy, Blå from 1999 to 2005. It was primarily a jazz club. Sunkissed DJs (Geir Aspenes and Olanskii), Prins Thomas, Pål “Strangefruit”, and Todd Terje had their club nights there. It was the most happening place after, first you had Skansen, then you had Jazid. I went to both Skansen and Jazid a few times. But I was mostly hanging out here in this venue when it was called ‘So What’. When this club shut down in 1999 or 2000, I moved over to Blå. From 99 to 2005, when they changed owners was magic years where it was a mixture of jazz, avant-garde music, indie-rock and club music. I think that that’s also the core of the scene because, at this club, you could have a free jazz concert on a Friday night from 9 to 11, and then you could have like a Prins Thomas club night right after. So you could go from Arthur Doyle free jazz, crazy set, right over to a Prins Thomas set. And to be honest, there’s a lot of similarities between Arthur Doyle and Prins Thomas. But it seemed crazy on the paper, but when you were there, it was all mixing beautifully. And that is why Blå is such a special place because it was not a pure dance place like Skansen, Jazid, as you can hear in name, it was more like a jazzy electronic place. Skansen was a dance place. But Blå was this mixture of genres, but mostly a jazz and dance club space where you could also have noise, hardcore, and all kinds of underground sounds. And everybody met there, a lot of music, musicians and producers mixed at Blå from 98 to 2005 when they had their best years. Blå was very influential for both my artists and label for both the jazz and electronic side. Again, it was about tearing down the walls between genres.

 

© 2014 – Paper Vision Ltd (Pete Jenkinson/Ben Davis)

Recorded on a Zoom H2.

Transcribed by Fingertips, Louie Callegari and Tongue Tied.