One of Sweden's finest shows his wares.
DJs like Henrik Bergqvist play a key role in keeping dance music healthy at its roots. This much-loved Stockholm native is a local DJ with skills that'd match most big international names. Many Swedish clubbers associate Bergqvist with The Office, a regular warehouse party held in the city between 2007 and 2013. A collaboration between visual artists, promoters and DJs such as Noah Gibson, Johannes Björhn, Anders Bergmark and former Skudge member Gustaf Wallnerström, The Office is where Bergqvist spent his formative years as a DJ, developing the upbeat, free-flowing style he pushes today.
Much like other local DJs we've caught up with (Dane in Edmonton, Simon Caldwell in Sydney, Lo Shea in Sheffield), Bergqvist's profile abroad has been growing steadily for the past few years. He's had standout releases on Aniara Recordings, Bossmusik and Trouble In Paradise, and recent gigs at Berghain, Dance Tunnel and Zukunft in Zürich, but his home scene is still where he spins most. The Swede's sound as a DJ takes in tracks new and old, drawing upon classic house and tech house, UK bleep and the stranger side of '90s techno. We get his breezy side on this week's RA podcast. With a smooth flow and expert sense of pace, it's a great introduction for the uninitiated and another fantastic Bergqvist set for the converted.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been busy working at my day job for a month now to be able to pay my rent. Before that I enjoyed a great summer with a lot of nice gigs. I played quite a few afterhours this summer, which I hope to do more. I have so many records which are hard to play in a club in Stockholm with our strict operating hours, so I love to play these records in their right context once in a while.
How and where was the mix recorded?
In my living room with the basic stuff: two turntables, a mixer and one CDJ.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted it to be a timeless mix that sounds like it's me and nobody else. I originally wanted it to consist of my personal favourites from over the years, but I quickly figured out it was hard stitching them together in a good way. It's always easier for me to make a mix if the tracks are fairly new to me. When I start to pick out records I will just jam and enjoy playing records, and that usually takes me in a direction for the mix. For this one I tried to tell a story, going from A to B and to have a common thread without playing 20 similar-sounding tracks in a row. This one's more of a roller coaster than a train ride, even if I enjoy those train rides, too.
You were involved in The Office for quite a while. What's it like throwing parties in Stockholm?
Where to begin? Generally it's awesome. Since the legislation in Sweden forbids clubbing after 5 AM, there's a demand in Stockholm for club nights that can stay open longer than that. The Office was an underground party without interest in profits that was held three-to-four times a year in a big warehouse space that fit around 400 or 500 people. So when The Office happened, people were ready to party like there was no tomorrow. For the most part, if you play it cool the Swedish police will let you do your thing. Don't do it too often, don't sell illegally imported beer, don't disturb the neighbours and such and you will be fine. I would say it's one of the most rewarding things I've done in my life—just doing something together with like-minded people to create something for others to enjoy. I am very happy that I could be part of that.
Stockholm was a hotspot for house and techno in the late '90s and early '00s with Svek, H. Productions and related labels. What legacy has that period left on dance music in Sweden?
To be honest, Svek and such were labels I found through Discogs, just like any other great label. Around 2006 when I started going to house and techno parties, I felt there was a vacuum in the dance music community in Stockholm. A new generation was coming up in the city and the ones before us were people that were playing abroad or had closed their business. Nothing really happened except this one very small club called Grodan and the odd trance rave. With cheap Ryan Air flights to Berlin we got a nice clubbing experience to import in our own way to Stockholm. I think it's just now in the last five years that we've had a strong dance music scene with at least a couple of parties every weekend, and two or three clubs pushing this kind of music.
What are you up to next?
I've dedicated the last ten years to music. Playing and making records is what I want to do, what I love and the only thing I'm really good at. So that's what I'll continue to do.