Hot of the heels of re-issues of 2 of his classic albums Trøbbel and Nedi Myra on Smalltown Supersound, we caught up with the man himself who has given us an illuminating insight into his world. He has also given us a a series of live mixes, you can catch part 3 below, in his own words “old school pirate radio-ish”. Keep your ears to the ground for parts 1 + 2 coming soon on Pool Podcast!
Hey Bjørn! How’s it going, what have you been up to?
It’s going pretty well. My main projects as of late have been remixing a variety of artists, both Norwegian and international. Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør, who is an acclaimed solo artist as well as a collaborator with Röyksopp. I also did a remix for DFA, their recent release with Museum of love. I have also travelled as a dj, being in various countries likeGermany, Poland and Japan. And Turkey.
The reissues of Nedj Myra and Trøbbel Smalltown Supersound have been getting a great reception, are you enjoying seeing some of your past work re-mastered and reaching some new listeners?
In this regard I’m happy with the releases getting a re-release for new listeners as well as anybody who might have missed out initially. For my own personal satisfaction there is also the remastered vinyl versions. “Trøbbel” has especially had a quite appropriate “face-lift” in that respect.
What first made you to turn your hand to music?
My personal interest in the matter, first of all, but also my aversion to joining a conventional lifestyle. Just finishing 12 years of school and suddenly being what I then perceived as being a free man helped push the decision. Of course, now after 25 years I’m stuck with music and don’t really have any healthy alternatives. But please don’t misunderstand me – I’m as fond as ever of doing what I do! Do you have a process for creating music?Yes, but it kind of changes all the time. With age I am however getting more and more accustomed to applying “method” to my creative impulses. In short, I’ll apply experience to ideas. It works for my conscience regarding obligations, but it doesn’t always pan out as expected. Which again, is in itself a motivator for going on.
You are part of several live projects, could you tell me about these?
Well, I have been working so much on my own through the years, so the “band” thing came along as a sort of relief from musical solitude. My band partners are also coming from slightly different traditions, and have worked as benefactors to my music as well as my attitude. The band situation is completely different from my experience as a solo artist.
You are often cited as an influence for many of the Norwegian acts that have risen to prominence in recent years. Who was your mentor?
In general, good music I’ve heard. In particular, apart from good music, it has to be people like the innovators of the Detroit techno scene, like Derrick May and Carl Craig, all the way to more local talents like Strangefruit from Mungolian Jetset, Prins Thomas, Erot, the Röyksopp guys. Hearing brilliant music is valuable enough in itself, but getting to see and hear a musically creative process is priceless education for anyone who are interested.
You have an extensive body of work that spans many ideas and styles, do you feel that there is a common feeling that runs through your music? If so, what is it?
The way I understand music in particular (and art in general), is that it is a mix of so-called “tradition”, and technique, mixed with personal impression and input. This is a simple explanation though. But I’m usually sensitive to musical input, and try not to be prejudiced about what I hear. This attitude I also employ in my production. I rarely feel comfortable on safe ground. I want to explore. That is my main motive, I think. Some people want music to recall a past memory, a familiar feeling. I primarily want music to get me out of that, to explore new territory. Anti-nostalgia, so to speak.
What do you feel is the relationship between your productions and DJ’ing?
The dance floor as a common fixture, at least in my own ideal setting. Not everything I make is necessarily considered “dance floor friendly” – neither is everything I might play as a dj. Yet I have an impression that you can play very much what you like if the situation is spot on, and then it’s up to you (or me) to have the right “weapon” for the job. Or rather the right spice for the pot.
You have spoken in the past about your DJ influences, from Ron to Harvey, and creating a ‘rich tapestry of music’ over a long and eclectic DJ set. How do you go about selecting music for DJ’ing?
I tend to put the label “house music” on about everything I choose to play. I guess it is the vibe I’m after, where it is possible to introduce unknown but working elements into a house vibe. As disco and house are two sides of the same coin, so is funk and jazz, soul and reggae, elements of the same heritage. Within each style, there are elements of house music.
I have a small selection that keeps staying in the bag. Classics, in the sense of stayers, and not necessarily “hits” bound to a specific time period. Then I’ll have a round the night before prior to each gig or round of gigs, just popping through various parts of my collection, more or less at random.
For you, what is an ideal DJ gig?
The ideal DJ gig is a good sound system, a crowd of perhaps 300 willing people that stays for the whole night, and preferably refuse to leave. Playing together with another dj can also be very rewarding, if the social and musical chemistry is right.
Do you remember the first time being booked outside of Norway? How was the experience?
As a DJ I think this was either Copenhagen or Berlin, in 1995. Both very rewarding experiences. In Copenhagen I played from seven o’clock in the morning, maybe for 3 or 4 hours. I had gone to bed at eleven the previous night, woke up at six, had breakfast and went to work. It was a huge techno festival, and the venue I played could probably keep 1500 people at least. I guess there were 150 dancing when I got on after a London dj playing the most intense gabber for one hour. I remember I started with the remix of Psyche’s “Crackdown”, the remix with the percussion from Soft Cell and Sarah Gregory on vocals. Still comes out from time to time.
Is there one track or release of yours you can say is your favourite?
It could be my first album release, under the Ismistik moniker, which came out on Djax-up-beats in 1995. Probably because I have distance to it in terms of time, but also because the process and means of producing were very simple, and I think I managed to exploit the limitations.
Can you tell us 5 records out of your current DJ bag?
Idjut Boys – “World 1st Day” (Altzmusica 7″)
Dj Sotofett & Karolin Tampere feat. Maimouna Haugen – Nondo (Honest Jon’s 2×12″)
Velferd – Awake (CDR demo)
Young & Vincenzini – Outrageous Beat (Pro Sniff 12″)
No Smoke – Koro Koro (Warriors Dance 12″)
What do you have lined up for 2015?
Plenty of work. More remixes. Dj gigs. Maybe some composition of music for a theatrical group.
And I’ve vowed to complete some new solo material for a release. At least one twelve-inch.