KasPER BJORKE TALKS
Danish polymath Kasper Bjorke has carved out a career as a man of great taste – whether being remixed bt Nicolas Jaar, discovering international talent as A&R of Reptile Youth and previously Fake Diamond, managing Trentemoller, being ‘the face of Hugo’ or dropping the kind of modern pop gems that pepper his three studio albums – the man has a golden touch and a strong sense of style. We caught up with him to chew the fat on what’s gone wrong with pop, the link between fashion and music and covering The Stones…
Efficient Machine was one of my favourite ‘pop’ records of the last 5 years. I use that term ‘pop’ liberally as I believe most great records can be called pop. You seem to have quite a love affair going on in your music with left of centre pop, is that a fair observation?
Indeed. I just did another interview where I pointed out my love for pop music. I have always been a sucker for a good popsong, so it naturally has become a part of my own music.
Why do you think mainstream pop music has become so shit. I honestly believe that Beyonce’s Crazy In Love was the last great pop record made although I’m prepared to be proved wrong if you disagree?
I agree with you. When every producer “discovered” EDM it eventually infiltrated RnB and rap music as well, and that sort of ruined everything from there.
Tell us about the remix album quite an indulgent thing for an artist to put a remix album out. They must all be pretty special pieces?
I’m getting old so I thought if I wanted to do a remix compilation – now was the time. I have handpicked the tracklist myself and actually I had to “kill some darlings” because so many great remixes of others were made of my tracks. It became too extensive. I also picked the ones I did of others that I am most proud of. It does end up as quite a large collection, but I think its a fun way of looking back at my “remix carreer” – and after three solo albums + an EP in a row, I though it would be nice for people to hear something from that side as well – all the singles from my album are on there, in remixed form obviously.
Rebolledo from the incredible Comeme remixed a track of yours. Comeme for me are one of the most consistently amazing labels at the moment putting out such incredible aural delights. What other labels, camps or artists are really floating your boat at the moment?
I agree with you. Comeme is the shit right now and for the last year they have been leading the pack of cool labels. Barnt is doing amazing things there.
Pachanga Boys (Hippie Dance), Axel Boman (Studio Barnhus), Red Axes (Im A Cliche), Jaques Renault (Lets Play House) and the Beats In Space and Throne of Blood labels are all rocking my chair at the moment.
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
HipHop. From 1988 to 1994 I was only listening to HipHop and buying vinyl. I saw Public Enemy as my first live concert in 1989. Supported by 3rd Base. Then it all became so industry driven and gold chain / bling bling / gangta rap oriented that I lost interest in rap music completely. I never really re-gained it, but still freak out when listening to the old records from Eric B & Rakim, Tribe, Black Sheep, Jungle Brothers, EPMD and so on.
How was Sonar Reykjavik? Was this your first Sonar experience and have you ever ventured to the Barcelona institution flagship in the sunshine in June?
I was going to Sonar in Barcelona back in the early 2000s when it was still small and more cosy. The Kompakt beach party was just 200 people and Michael Mayer dancing with sand between their toes and everything was very laied back and on a much smaller scale. Sonar Reykjavik maybe reminded me a bit of Sonar By Day those many years ago… because it was smaller.
I liked Sonar Reykjavik and it was taking place in the beautiful concerthall Harpa, right by the ocean. It was fun playing too – even though my set was at the same slot as Modeselektor in the room next to mine.
What inspired you to cover The Stones? Pretty bold move!
My girlriend send the song to me as sort of a “love confession” right when we started dating – and I just felt inspired to interpret it somehow, while still letting it have the original dreamy and beautiful atmosphere…. It such an amazing song.
I was DJing the original version from The Stones after she gave it to me – and the sound is not so good on a big soundsystem, so I wanted my drum parts to be more for the floor…. I think I succeeded pretty well with the cover version – but I must say that Nicolas Jaars remix took it all the way to a different stratosphere. He is such a talent and Im very happy that he said yes when I asked him. He kind of blew up shortly after that so the timing was good too.
I’m not going to get you to talk about the Danish scene because it’s a lazy question but if there’s anyone from Denmark of late who’s brilliant that you’re keen to highlight here please go right ahead
If I should mention somebody unknown to the outside world, it would be Gold Lip. They are not signed yet (Im working on that, though) and they just put up a video online for the song Breakfast Song that is really cool.
Check it out.
They are working on a EP and have their live debut at Spot Festival in May. I belive in them.
Obviously the established darlings: Kenton Slash Demon, Trentemoller, When Saints Go Machine, Reptile Youth, Choir of Young Believers, CTM as well.
You were picked as the ‘face’ of Hugo. How important is fashion and style as part of your music? Time was about 10 years ago when post punk met disco and elector re-met on the dancefloor and design, style and music were intrinsically linked. In the UK at least since then they seem to have drifted apart. I think it’s time they all came back together again. WIll you help please?!
I will do my best, haha.
Its true that the two industries could use eachother even more these days. I do feel that its on the rise at the moment. Everybody is talking about “Corporate Sound” and linking music with brands in general.
Fashion is an industry full of people that are searching for new things – including new music – so its important in that sense, that I appreciate if the people from the fashion industry like my music and want to use it in shows and commercials and such. That will get my music out to a much larger scale of people – and thats always good! Exposure is a big factor.
The Hugo collaboration was fun for me to do – to be asked to be in that role all of a sudden. I learned alot from it too.
Still, music comes before fashion for me – I dont consider myself part of the fashion scene even though I know alot of people that work with fashion.
How do you find time to manage someone as massive as Trentemoller on top of everything else?!
I have simply made his carreer just as important as my own. Its like running two lives simultanious, somehow – but it makes me feel happy to do it. His success is my success.
I see you play The Rex in Paris regularly. We were over in Paris last week for the incredibility of Bjork and ventured to see Laurent Garnier there on THursday. What struck me most about this by all accounts pretty average room was the atmosphere in there. People were actually having fun! Smiling and everything! Something like that is severely lacking on a lot of UK dance floors at present. Where else in the world excites you in terms of dancefloor elation?
Parisians know how to party – like most southern European countries. I played at Rex just once actually, and it was alot of fun. Ive also played Social Club which I actually enjoyed even more.
A couple of other highlighst for me on the world map of places to DJ and party is of course Panorama Bar in Berlin. Legendary. One of my best gigs ever. And then Le Bain in NYC which is located on the top of The Standard Hotel – with the most amazing view of the city. Thats really unique. I must say I also loved playing in Room 1 at Fabric for WYS! on a sunday. My friend Trevor Jackson has threatened to get me over for a gig this summer at a new party that he is part of, lets see if it happens, would love to come back to London soon.
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?
A Mmulticoloured, soft ball that you can play with, maybe ?
First and last record bought?
1st: Beverly Hills Cop 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – on vinyl.
last: My Bloody Valentine: MBV – on vinyl.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
A kick. Because I have a weekly radioshow on national radio (also up as podcast btw) called 4/4
Complete the sentence: I’m proper techno because..
That is the one question I cant answer….
Who’s more techno and why; your Mum or your Dad?
My father even though they divorced when I was three years old. He gave me an Underworld record when I was a teenager and into hip hop.
What item of clothing in your wardrobe are you most ashamed of?
Maybe the silk suit some poor asian woman made for me when I was in China on tour some years ago. I actually never wore it. It feels wrong to wear something that underpayed people worked on, during the night when I was sleeping in my hotel. Im not going back to China either – at least before they stop suppressing their people and get the fuck out of Tibet!
It’s peak time at a party, you are lost in the music, you shut your eyes; what do you see?
That multicoloured ball, bouncing up and down. So I see myself, right ?
What’s your answer to everything?
Fantasy house party – who’s on the guestlist?
Andy Warhol, Bjrk, Giorgio Moroder, Daft Punk and Nick Cave.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Getting a new studio space. Its within my reach, I can almost smell it, and its a perfect spot very close to my home. Just need the last details to fall into place.
Whats your favourite place on earth?
Iceland. I belong there in a cabin in the countryside, surrounded by glaciers, hot springs and mountains – far away from life.
Finally, big question: Zapp or Zappa?
Zappa, obviously !
Grab yourself a free download of Kasper Bjorke’s Sunrise (Alternate Dub Version):
?And check out his spanking remix compilation n’all.
And the new video right here…