If you were to be asked to define the singular sound of Scandinavian electronic music you'd be tough placed to suggest a definitive answer.
The genre continues to evolve and reinvent itself with such enormous consistency that it has become a sound which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. However, if you were to try to narrow it down towards just a few words then the first in my book would be as follows, playful.
Bella Boo and Art Alfie are two producers and dj's who have played a key role in the evolution of the genre in recent times, close affiliates with Studio Barnhus, they have both forged careers for themselves in dance music and have at various times crossed beyond that realm into the midst of pop and beyond. Experimental and free flowing, they take influence from house music before them and pair it with the carefree abandon of italo, pop, disco and balearic sounds which makes their music highly unique and interesting.
This month marks the release of a new split EP upon which they both feature, a timely showcase of the collective weight of Scandinavian electronics and a burgeoning scene which continues to delight and inspire.
Art Alfie asks Bella Boo
So how's quarantine in LA been for you?
Weird. Ups and downs. No time for work, taking care of my daughter. We’re going through phases but we do miss Stockholm - she misses her school and friends and I miss my studio!!
When we lived next door to each other like 6-7 years ago I remember you were making music that sounded dope, how come you waited until quite recently to start releasing music?
Did I really? Lol, in my opinion I waited until the music didn’t suck. Combined with confidence.
Where have your musical interests taken you over the years? Like what was the first genre you dove into as a kid and where did it go from there until now?
RNB! Indie pop, punk, hardcore, old soul, reagge, house, garage and UK funky, grime, back to house, lots of jazz. In that order. I love listening back to stuff and realising it's all in there. Like Björk’s ’There’s more to life than this’. House anthem!!
The situation we're in now has completely shut down the scene. When things start rolling again, do you have hopes for change?
I can’t even describe how much I already miss clubbing, so at this point I’m being really nostalgic and sentimental. I just want the world to go back to normal. More widely I hope for changes - like a more socialist, less capitalistic world. As for clubbing, I miss it too much to be able to make complaints just now.
What's important in a dance music based album?
Some chill parts, listening to 10 something straight club tracks doesn’t do it for me, I need some variety and dynamics.
You have been releasing on Studio Barnhus, could give us your five favourite tracks from the label?
The Champion - Whispers Beirut
It Always Rains - Lukas Nystrand von Unge
Do U Wanna Freak - Your Planet Is Next
Air 2 Breathe - Mount Liberation Unlimited
Eyes Of My Mind - Axel Boman
.... and oh, not released yet but Kornél has made a remix of my track ‘Stars’ and it’s sooo good!
Bella Boo asks Art Alfie
You also released a fantastic album with Studio Barnhus, this question was fun - what are your 5 favorite tracks from Karlovak and Studio Barnhus?
Ohh so hard, there´s so much good stuff to choose from. Pretty much impossible but I’ll pick five from each label, and I’ll pick tracks from other artists than myself and Tophat on Karlovak.
Axel Boman - ABBA 002
Matt Karmil - Moment
Fader - Monsooned Malabar
Lukas Nystrand von Unge - En Slags Popmusik
SLG - Prostokaty feat. Catz 'n Dogz
Dj Jes - Para Usted
Radioslave - I Need Music
Sakro - A Night Forever
Santos - We Met Before
Ben Sims - Lucky People
How do you prepare a dj-set?
It depends. I always try to know my music and have a general idea of which soundscapes I want to move in-between. I think a big part of the job of a DJ is to work with the energy in the room and a lot of times you don’t know that beforehand. If I have too much of a fixed idea I become a bit inflexible. I like to stay flexible within the very inflexible frame of the music I like.
I remember when I brought ‘Idrischön’ to your studio feeling something was missing. When trying out one of your synthesizers the track was playing, I was figuring the synth out and tuning it. When I was ready to go, I turned around and you go “that’s it, track is done”, and you’d recorded what I just did. I love that moment and find it really inspiring for my creative process. Is this a method you normally use, or what’s your creative process like?
Hehe if it's dope, it's dope. That was a good example of one of the advantages of working with someone. It's a lot easier to catch that great part when someone else is playing than to do it all yourself. I usually just fiddle about and see what comes out. Instead of deciding before exactly what to play and then try to record it. Even though I do that too sometimes. I mean, I'm not really a musician so I gotta make do with what I have skill-wise.
I love the bunch you brought together with this Velvet Pony VA that I’m a part of. Tell us about your thoughts and intentions with your label Velvet Pony?
I wanted it to be a personal label, just me and people I knew in person or people kinda close to me. Not really looking to release big names, instead I'd rather release great music, or at least music I like, from artists that people haven't heard of before. With that framework it's gonna be mostly a Stockholm affair.
What do you prefer - studio or DJ?
Mm I can’t choose. There’s such great synergy between them. I love working in the studio during the week and traveling. One inspires the other. I also DJ a lot of my own unreleased stuff, it's a big part of my sound as a DJ.
I know you’ve been into rock/pop music - is there ever gonna be an Art Alfie pop-release?
Funny you ask, I just turned in a remix for my friend Lune. It's sort of a spacey r’n’b thing.
Buy the new EP HERE.
Enjoy this article? Want more?
You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.
Become a friend of Ransom Note