But for Olof Dreijer, the production mastermind behind the duo, The Knife is not the only tool in his dark cupboard: come nightfall, he swaps FM synthesis for a record bag and spins as DJ Coolof. Sometimes dark, sometimes playful, Coolof has been spinning funky minimal techno around Europe for the two last years. Yet Knife fans be warned: as his management put it, "Don't expect any Knife tunes here, not even a vocal".
In a preview to his debut UK gig in Room 2 alongside Hardfloor and Trevor Jackson at Turnmills in London on June 24th, RA had a chat to DJ Coolof and a peek in his record bag.
So how long have you been DJing? Were you collecting records and spinning as a DJ before you started The Knife project?
Yeah, I started DJing in '97. I started with drum 'n' bass for a couple of years, then house, then techno, and some hiphop in between.
How does The Knife influence you as a DJ or conversely, how does your DJing influence The Knife's productions?
I think working with The Knife has really made me more interested in minimal techno since the production is so interesting and constantly evolving. The actual DJing doesn’t influence The Knife so much since The Knife is not dance music. But all the records that I buy definitely affect The Knife's music and production. We are both very influenced by techno: nineties ambient techno music and contemporary minimal techno.
Which do you enjoy more: DJing or performing live with Karin as The Knife? Why?
We have just started to play "live" as The Knife. It's not really live, mostly backing tracks. What I do in The Knife's live show is done in advance, like reworking the songs and mixing them in surround sound and that’s really exciting. DJing is a lot different. It's not that deep a process but it's much more immediate so that’s great in another way!
The Knife has a very electro synth pop sound yet your DJ sets have a more minimal techno flavour. Who are your musical influences both as a DJ and producer?
Plastikman/Richie Hawtin, Luciano plus labels like Perlon, Trapez, Einmalen and Telegraph.
There has been a lot of exciting new producers and releases in the minimal techno scene in the last twelve months. Which producers or labels are always essential inclusions in your record box?
All of the above plus Minus, Moon Harbour, Mobilee, Vakant, Safari.
Are you surprised by the international success of The Knife's album 'Silent Shout'? Why do you think it has had more widespread international appeal and success compared to earlier albums?
I haven't got a clue. Maybe cos it's not as conceptual as 'Deep Cuts'. 'Deep Cuts' was all about packaging the music in a poppy format to deliver our political ideas to a broader audience. 'Silent Shout' is more about the music. We never thought it would be as accessible as 'Deep Cuts'.
The latest release 'We Share Our Mother's Health' by The Knife includes remixes by Trentemoller and Radioslave. Did you personally choose those artists to remix the track? If so, why those particular producers?
Yes, I think the Trentemoller release on Ware a while ago was fantastic. He wanted to do a remix for us so we asked him. Radioslave's stuff is great, dirty but really crossover. His remix of 'Blacklight Sleaze' is stunning! Both these guys are those kind of producers that deliver remixes as good as their own tracks. They weren't so unusual choices I think. Sometimes we just pick remixers that have inspired us in the album process, like Shinedoe for example. Her stuff has been really inspirational so it was great to have her remix 'Silent Shout'.
This week The Knife are playing at Sonar plus you're also DJing at the Swedish Showcase event in Barcelona alongside many of Sweden's key names in electronic music including Jesper Dahlback, John Dahlback, the Swedish house mafia (Eric Prydz, Steve Angello, Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso), Joel Mull and more. Is there a strong electronic music community in Sweden? Why do you think there has been this sudden burst of music out of Sweden recently?
I think it has always been strong. We've always had good techno, trance and house producers. But why now, I don’t know. Maybe cause Swedish guys are so nerdy (me too). It's cold in Sweden so they can spend a lot of time in the studio.
On June 24th you're playing at Together at Turnmills in London. For many years, the UK was regarded as the epicentre of dance music. Given the international success of artists from Sweden and other non-UK countries and the increase in clubbing hotspots outside the UK, do you think playing in London is still critical to making it in the world of dance music?
Berlin is obviously better for more experimental dance music so I don't know. I haven't thought about "making it" really. I think it's gonna be really fun! Paul Woolford is playing the same night I think. When I first heard his 'Erotic Discourse' I was just completely blown away! I was laughing cos it was just so great!
In a statement from your UK management about you as a DJ, it says "Don't expect any Knife tunes here, not even a vocal". Why do you prefer not to play your own productions out?
I don't think you can dance to The Knife's music. It's too many elements, too song based. I like to keep things simple and hypnotic on the dancefloor. Also it's embarrassing to play The Knife's music when I DJ because it feels too close to me. I prefer DJing with other people's music in a smoky corner but sometimes I play remixes of our music!
Finally, tell us one or two tracks you'll definitely have in your box for your upcoming dates.
Audio Werner - Onandon