Q&A WITH STOCKHOLM BASED DJ AND PRODUCER HENRIK BERGQVIST; REVISITING SOME OLD MEMORIES, NEWS ON HIS UPCOMING TRACKS AND A GLIMPSE INTO HIS IMAGINARY SUPER-PANORAMA-BAR-CLUB.
How did you get into music?
I’ve always been into music, mostly hip-hop like Wu-tang Clan and that kind of raw stuff. But I really got into the dance music thing whilst I was living in Gothenburg. I rented an apartment and I needed somebody to share it with. This friend of my boss needed a place to live and that guy turned out to be Göran Dahlström, a really good Swedish DJ. He had turntables and A LOT of vinyls and he showed me how to beat match and stuff. He let me play around with the decks, and since I had already started to get into dance music, it felt natural to buy some of my own records. I also went to Barcelona that summer with friends and attended some amazing off-Sonar partys, which got me even more hooked on everything techno..
You’ve worked full time with music since you left your job?
Yeah… I feel like I should have done more tracks! [laughs]
Is it hard to quit your day job?
No, it wasn’t that hard, I didn’t feel happy in my situation so I needed to do something about it! Now I’m happy every morning going to the studio.
And poor. [laughs]
Is there any special song that you can point out that really got you into dance music?
Not a special song but I remember listening a lot to a Trentemöller Essential Mix. It was dope. It was a bit of a cross-over, maurizio, electro-house-thing, reggae… but at the time it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.
Fuck, I should listen to it again! Even if it isn’t something I would listen to today I still think I would remember the feeling from back then.
It’s weird how some of that old music that used to mean so much to you loses its relevance…
Yeah, most of it is shit. I bought some of those first tracks just for fun.
I remember Johannes Björhn, who I did The Office with, showing me a Radioslave song called Modena. I was like ”yeah, I get it, but it’s too monotonous for me”. Today I’m the one out of all my friends that is listening to the most loopy stuff. I can spin out on a loop basically for an entire day without getting tired. It’s one of my biggest problems in the studio; I create loops and then I feel like I’m done… [laughs]
And then there are those who only hear noise in dance music…
But I think all “fine” art forms require a learning process to fully appreciate it. You need to get your head tuned the right way first.
I also think that the parties give you a reference and a context…
Yeah sure, I always have my own little ”imaginary-super-panorama-bar-club” running in my head while producing a dance track. And you’re always striving for the feeling: ”I would die if I heard this, at this point, at this club, in this mind state”. This track would go perfect in this or that specific situation. It’s dangerous to think too much like that and i’m trying to stop. [laughs]
But at the same time: it comes out as it comes out you know?
How did you get in contact with the Aniara people?
It was 2 or 3 years ago. I’d known Fabian for a while. They were heading down to Germany for this little tour and they needed a driver. So I drove them to Germany. By then I’d made some music. Everyone brought some CD’s to listen to in the car and I decided to bring some of the music I’d done. I didn’t tell them that it was my music so I got quite honest criticism. That was basically how I met all of them. [laughs] Afterwards, Alex asked me for one of the songs and I sent him, ”Go For What Hurts”. A couple of weeks later he said that he had played it at Renate and yeah, it ended up as a track on their label.
How do you approach a track when producing?
I have learned that I need an idea, a sample or a feeling to get something going. It’s impossible for me to just sit down and think: “Now I’m going to produce a great song“. So when I have this idea or something it usually goes kind of fast and I jam around that. Then it becomes easy; this Battlestar Galactica-sample there, add a hi-hat, a synth. But I need something to jam around with.
I also enjoy imitating, like “Ah, he/she put that much reverb on the synthesizer” or “hmm, I also wanna do hi-hats like that” or “what sound is that?”. And you try to imitate that a little bit but it never ends up the same way.
Is there anyone special you would like to produce music with?
I would like to produce more music with good friends like Noah Gibson. We like the same kind of things. And we understand each other. I’ve worked on some tracks with Alex from Genius of Time too. It’s like a lesson in music in school, in a good way! He has been making music since he started to walk or something and everything just comes so naturally for him. He’s really an inspiration for me!
How do you prepare a set?
I usually prepare about one transition in each set. So I know that if I play this track after that track it’s going to have a certain effect. Apart from that it’s improvised from the records that I chosen.
If you would bring something from nightlife abroad to Sweden – what would it be?
First the obvious; change to better opening times; why should someone else decide when I can dance and not?
Besides that I sometimes wish that the drinking culture in Sweden was different. We get too drunk for our own good all the time. [laughs]
Is there any track that’s really spinning for you at the moment?
Aah, I have to choose the DJ Qu record since I just played with him, this Saturday. It’s on Yygrec and the track is called “Do This Here.” Everybody into losing your shit in a dark basement should buy this.
So what’s happening now?
I’ve got three tracks done for a new Aniara record. We only have the last touch left. I hope it will be released in February.. I’m continuing my residency at Berns 2.35;1 with guests like Dj Qu, Craig Richards, Fred P, Paranoid London this winter. I am also playing at Sonar Stockholm in February which I am very much looking forward to! Also some gigs in Berlin and Heidelberg in March. Also the rest of the time shedding in the studio!
Anyone you would like to give special praise to?
Look out for Noah Gibson! Remember where you heard it first! Also Axel Hallqvist, I’d like to give him a bit of a boost so that he finishes his tracks! He creates really good music and he’s a really good DJ. And I’d mention Nadja Chatti who is one of Stockholms best DJs!
THANK YOU SO MUCH HENRIK!
Hopefully we’ll see a mix from Henrik on HMWL later on this spring when his schedule eases up a bit!