The revered Norwegian artist takes us higher.
It's interesting to consider the ways in which different countries have consumed and interpreted house and techno since it sprang from the US all those years ago. It's a generalisation, sure, but Norwegian producers are often associated with a particularly distinct take on those styles. Tromsø's Bjørn Torske is the largely responsible for this fact. He started releasing music in the '90s, and developed a sound that draws as much from disco, dub and psychedelic rock as it does house and techno. He's released four albums since 1998—two of which, the excellent Nedi Myra and Trøbbel, were recently reissued by Smalltown Supersound—and has worked with key labels like Tellé, Svek and Sex Tags Mania. This has made him a cult favourite in Norway, and an enormous inspiration to guys like Todd Terje, Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm, artists who would go on to spread variations of the Norwegian style around the world. ("Nedi Myra was one of the first house albums I bought, or at least that's what I thought it was," Terje said recently. "Weird futuro-bossa and foggy disco-not-really-disco was more like it.") Torske himself has been more of a low-key presence over the years, but he's kept up a steady flow of releases and DJs regularly in and around Norway—"my highest priority definitely is to be a DJ and select music for people," he says below.
Like Torske's music, his RA podcast is warm, weird, musical and intriguing at every turn.
What have you been up to recently?
Playing music for people at parties (AKA DJing). I also did a live gig together with five mates. We have a band together performing on occasion. We did a two-hour show completely from scratch, not playing songs as such but sort of making things up on the fly while sticking to the groove. Completely unambitious project, but very fun. And sometimes people like it, too.
Apart from that I'm always busy in the studio working on music, and I'm at last able to start thinking of making something of my own again after spending the last few years mainly doing remixes for other people. Which of course is fun and inspiring, sticking your nose into other people's sound and messing things up, haha. But nevertheless there are a few new tracks in the pipeline that will appear on Smalltown Supersound in not too long a while, I hope.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in a local spot named Cafe Opera on a Wednesday night, which I play every now and then for a varied but not always too big crowd. I sort of put together an idea for the mix when picking records at home, and then recorded it in the venue. When I listened to it later I decided to edit out most of the vocal parts in "Into The Milky Way" by Jimmy Briscoe & The Beavers. So it is listed as an edit but it is only present in the mix and not from a record.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
As I usually do when I record a mix, I want to include a variety of styles and sounds as I also would be doing in a club situation, but fitting it into the time span of the mix. I would of course love to present an all-night recorded live mix of four or five hours, but that is usually too long for most people, in addition to the somehow added "mental weight" being conscious all the time that it is being recorded. Like it will somehow restrain me and force me to think too much about the mixing and technicalities rather than go with the party, if you understand.
As to the choice of tracks, I just picked what represents my dance floor these days, it being springtime and the end of a dark, cold and very windy and rainy winter. I think it's possible to feel that vibe in the selection.
What made you decide to reissue Nedi Myra and Trøbbel?
I was prompted to try and get them released digitally, and I realised this was a great opportunity to try to get a proper vinyl cut of Trøbbel, which was cut very low on the initial pressing. Back then it was cut at GZ outside Prague, as they were cheaper than any other vinyl manufacturers around. Not that it sounded bad as such, it was cut from a master DAT done at the Exchange, but with heavy limitation so it is really low in volume, and difficult to play on a big booming system. So I just said that on the condition that they both be re-mastered (at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin, of course) and re-released on vinyl, I'd be up for the digital release as well. And Joakim pushed the necessary buttons and here they are.
Do you play many parties these days?
My highest priority definitely is to be a DJ and select music for people. And I've been doing that since I started playing on a radio station back in 1987 in Tromsø, where I grew up. So yes, I play more or less weekly both in my hometown, Bergen, around Norway, Europe and anywhere else people would want me to come. This is what gives me the most personally, at least, to be there with the people dancing. I love to play long sets, being able to delve more deeply into the astonishing world of recorded music. A world that to me seems boundless, like there is no end to the possibility of digging up obscure platters from almost any age and time.
What are you up to next?
That is kind of secret. I'm going in the studio with a friend to produce some music, which eventually will be released on record, I hope. Who and what, you'll know when it hits the streets. Other than that I'll continue to run the gauntlet of clubs and parties, with a gig in Venice coming up next, and I'll also probably continue the spree of remixing as it seems there is a continuous demand for that.
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