Meanwhile in Norway - Part One

By Audio Pervert - 6/28/2019

We are following a new trail, discovering underground and emerging electronic music from Norway. Usually electronic music lovers at best recall Todd Terje, the star-icon of Norwegian post-disco or Røyksopp, the ambient trip-hop sensation. That is rather passé and hardly covers the contemporary Norwegian scene. However, the small country (5.3 million people) is currently brimming with electronic music, made of thousands of producers, DJs, scene-makers and experimental artists, colouring the spectrum in curious little ways. We recently spoke to Endre Dalen about the emerging and underground 'scene' in Norway. Endre is an editor and writer based in Oslo. He is working in Samora Forum, an institution and magazine highlighting cultural diversity. His formative years made of funk, soul, rap, punk-rock and electronic music. For more than a decade he has worked as graphic designer, advisor, writer and editor for the Mela Festival and it's native venue Melahuset (Mela House), which opened in 2016. Consequently cultivating his interest in ancient, retro as well as emergent new sounds from all around the world...



Give us a brief background into electronic music from Norway?
Since the end of the 90s Norwegian electronic music has mainly been associated with disco and house music. Thats the mainstream. Mostly people don't know of the techno-scene and it's roots in Tromsø. Primarily the house and disco sound came out of Bergen. It was quickly dubbed the 'Bergen Wave'. Erot (Tore Kroknes) being a vital influence, who died too early (although many of the producers such as Røyksopp, Rune Lindbæk and Bjørn Torske hailed from Tromsø in the north).  Røyksopp was by far the most popular of these bands that I mentioned. However the duo from Røyksopp were previously part of projects such as the 'Those Norwegians' (such a funny name). In 2002 they cliched the MTV Europe award and burst into global limelight. Røyksopp's music was sometimes downtempo in the beginning, but have influences from p-funk, synth pop and beyond. This is more pop than anything else, and has not much to do with progressive electronic music anymore. Yet hailing from Tromsø, they do have a direct connection with the 'Godfather of Norwegian Techno', Geir Jenssen who cut his teeth in synth-pop and ethno group Bel Canto in the 80s, and then going solo as Bleep and his best known moniker Biosphere.

Post the Bergen Wave, What happened?
Later on 'Oslo Disco' became the vogue, which spilled outside Norway, lead by artists like Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas. Off-course Todd Terje took this movement to international heights. Lindstrøm even collaborated with Bryan Ferry! Disco was gradually mutated... The acts that I mentioned above formed a fusion of disco and house, but gradually more producers and DJs started incorporating German Kraut, Italo-House, weird movie soundtracks, audio-archives into the sound. Terje’s brand of music is great, but have somehow lost its edge over time... happens many times with star-DJs and Producers, who literally blow up!


So who are the artists pushing the contemporary scene?
There's so many... For example Tropical house producer Kygo - yet his music is so distant from the underground sounds, that I'm not going explain his 'trip'. Techno is making a big come-back the last few years, dimming some of the routine house-muzak scene considerably. Also a lot of bass music, Afro-House, Kuduro is picking up, getting into the clubs in Oslo. However, in a way we still lack the producers of African influenced electronic music getting recognition and space. Right now, they say, tech-house is the 'new plague'.
However there are so many artists and producers I have heard off late, it's always moving and changing here in Norway. Take the example of Mungolian Jetset, the group consisting of Pål “Strangefruit” Nyhus and Knut Sævik. Nyhus has been DJ-ing all kinds of electronic and organic styles since the early 90s. The guy has an amazing record collection with groove-based music from the far out places. Reflecting the global shift, female talent and presence in Norway is gradually pushing it's way into the underground bit by bit. Camilla Luna from Oslo blew my mind recently. Her music producer BHLB is another example of an avid record collector with an adventurous, global, sonic taste.

Has the underground scene in Norway been documented yet?
Yes loads ... sites such as Resident Advisor and Pitchfork have showcased and interviewed Norwegian artists and producers. However most of the circulation remains within the country. You should definitely check out Northern Disco Lights. The short film goes deeper and broader into what I was saying above. The story of bored teenagers who created and shaped a legit underground movement, gradually placing their hometown of Tromsø on the techno map of the world.



Tell us about some of your favourite artists based in Norway?
Haha! That can be a long list, but I will keep it short and fresh for new listeners...

Larus Sigurvin ▶️ “Luxury Estate” (Captain Credible remixed by Lárus Sigurvin) - Oslo / Kolbotn.



EOD ▶️ “Exham Priority” from Named LP - Trondheim



Mungolian Jetset ▶️ “Creepy” from We Gave It All Away... And Now We Are Taking It Back - Oslo/Hamar/Ørsta



Camilla Luna ▶️ Open Up EP - Oslo



Biosphere ▶️ “Novelty Waves” from Patashnik LP Tromsø 



Charlotte Bendiks ▶️ “Kaia” from Hidden Tracks EP - Tromsø



Noiadi ▶️ “Invocation” Oslo/Kolbotn


Our extended conversations with Endre lead to uncovering large troves of Norwegian electronic music, which barely begins to reflect the diversity and action within the underground realms of the country. As a lot of Norwegian electronic music remains 'localised' within northern Europe (in-spite of being considerably multi-racial and multi-cultural), the prospect to connect Norwegian Electronica with other parts of the world and artists from other nations, remains to be seen. Stay Tuned!

To be continued ...

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