Bruhn wasn't always so convincing, however. In fact, the label's origins are more modest than most. Stuck for a bit of money to get things off the ground, Bruhn offered his body to science at his local university for a clinical trial. "For about three weeks I couldn't leave the hospital. You're monitored every hour basically. It was a psychoactive drug that we were testing. Some people got the placebo, and others got varying doses, high or low. I don't know what kind of dose I got, but I definitely got something," he laughs.
"You're in the most sober environment ever. It's one thing being high in a nightclub or wherever. But there you're among doctors and people you don't know... I remember laying down and listening to music, thinking 'I need to chill out.' I actually ended up listening to music 12 hours a day there and got a lot of inspiration... and a lot of money at the end of the three weeks."
By this point Bruhn had already met Alexander Berg and Nils Krogh, the duo who make up Genius of Time, and fallen in love with their track "Same Old Place." The idea to create a label was clear. What it would turn out to be, however, had to wait until the next summer to crystallize further. Soon after the label had its first release, they wanted to celebrate with a party in Gothenburg. But they didn't know where to hold it.
"We are very uncompromising. Either we do it how we want it or we don't do it. We decided that there wasn't a place in Gothenburg that can satisfy our need for what we want," remembers Bruhn. "So we built a soundsystem ourselves and started doing parties that summer. We could play the whole night until quite late, go through several moods, and have this vibe where people feel a part of something and give you the benefit of the doubt. If you play something weird, they'll try to like it. When you're in a club, you'll instead have someone say 'I paid 100 kroner for this, why is he playing such weird music?'"
"We did so many that summer," Berg chimes in.
"We almost did one a week. It was fucking exhausting," sighs Bruhn.
How does one build a soundsystem from scratch? Not very easily. Luckily Bruhn had worked as a carpenter briefly and Krogh's father was an engineer. So when they looked over plans, they had an idea of how to get started. That said, as Berg puts it: "If you miss cutting a piece of wood by one millimeter, the whole thing becomes a nightmare to fit together."
It was at that point that Bruhn, Berg and Krogh realized that they had something special on their hands. Bruhn, in a previous interview described it as a transformation from label to a collective: "From that point we all started to get more involved in the label and parties, and we all started to blend more into each other."
Aniara started to gain attention at a moment when Sweden as a whole began to reemerge on the dance music radar. Labels like Geography and Studio Barnhus, artists like Skudge and Abdulla Rashim, parties like Stockholm's The Office all seemed to take root a few years ago. It's unclear from an outsider's perspective why this might be. Bruhn, however, doesn't think it's a coincidence at all: "What I think has happened is that alternative culture used to be all about pop. (There was stuff going on in dance music, but it wasn't as prevalent.) Now there is a massive influx of people getting into club culture. That's what has changed. People have become inspired by dance music when they were young."
There's a certain romanticism to this idea, and optimism—more than anything else—seems to be the defining throughline of Aniara as an imprint. Musically too. Dreamy chords are the mainstay throughout the catalogue. The melody on Genius of Time's "Gliese 581g" is an undeniably gorgeous one. The billowing synth of Auji's "Conclusion Came to You" seems ready to float away into the distance. The sway-inducing breakdown of Dorisburg's "Sinai Hypnosis" is so long that you might mistake the part with the beat as the breakdown. "Houston, We Have a Problem," perhaps Genius of Time's biggest hit, came on Clone Royal Oak and it's almost hard to imagine it being released on Aniara. The beloved bassline—withheld for a tantalizing two-and-a-half minutes—is too rude.
Future releases on Aniara seem to indicate that this lightness will be leavened with more straightforward dance fare. Henrik Bergqvist's "Spin" makes its melody solely from its insistent rhythm. And Genius of Time's forthcoming "Tuffa Trummor Med Rost" delights in putting a drum machine through its paces... until a dreamy mid-section where it turns into a rave classic (both literally and metaphorically). With Aniara, a ray of sunshine is never far off.
Perhaps that should be expected with a label who takes its name from a Harry Martinson poem that details what happens to the survivors in a spacecraft that gets hit by an asteroid. Bruhn emailed after our initial meeting, writing that "all alone on their journey into the void, these people turn to dreams and hedonistic rituals of dancing as a way to keep grasp of their inner spark and not slip into hopelessness and despair." It's not a bad thought to keep in mind the next time you find yourself on the floor at a party soundtracked by Aniara.
Download: RA Label of the Month 1210 Mix: Aniara Recordings
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01. Auji - Conclusion Came To You (Aniara)
02. Dorisburg - Sinai Hypnosis (Aniara)
03. Alex & Fabian - Respons På Blå Våglängder (Aniara)
04. Henrik Bergqvist - Go For What Hurts (Forthcoming on Aniara)
05. Alex & Fabian - Syra (Unreleased)
06. Genius of Time - Tuffa Trummor Med Röst (Forthcoming on Aniara)
07. Henrik Bergqvist - Spin (Forthcoming on Aniara)
08. Chefone - Test 126 (Unreleased)
09. Dorisburg - Mima (Aniara)
10. Mountain Range - Untouchable (Forthcoming on Aniara)
11. Genius of Time - Ain't No Game (Forthcoming)
12. Genius of Time - Gliese 581g (Aniara)