Kasper Bjørke on the Scandinavian Sound and His New Remix Album
Kasper Bjørke plays Bardot on September 26.
Photo by Rasmus Weng Karlsen
Kasper Bjørke had it pretty good during the 2000s as one half of dance pop duo Filur. Along with co-producer Tomas Barford, the pair certainly enjoyed its share of commercial success in Europe with hit singles like "I Want You," one of Denmark's top music exports in 2005.
But alas, Filur's pop formula couldn't contain the virtual tidal wave of creativity Bjørke was prepared to unleash on global dance music once he went solo. And it would prove a liberating move for the prolific DJ/producer. His sound — a heady, kaleidoscopic blend of cosmic disco, melodic techno and rave-rock — keeps on giving after five artist albums, countless remixes, and numerous side-project releases.
Ahead of his first Miami date in several years at Bardot, we caught up with the prodigious Dane to learn more about his musical roots and the new remix album he dropped this summer.
New Times: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music?
Kasper Bjørke: I started listening to hip-hop as an early teen, then trip-hop and drum 'n' bass, and from that, I discovered house music. I was very fascinated by the New York house scene, DJs like Masters At Work. And obviously acts like Daft Punk, when they first started.
Was there much of a scene in Denmark when you were growing up?
Not at all. I grew up in a small town. We had to get our hip-hop vinyl shipped in from Copenhagen. Once I moved there at the age of 18, it was a whole new world. Nightclubs, raves, etc.
So were there any particular local influences for you? Or were you looking outside Denmark for inspiration?
There were some local DJs that I was a fan of, but the music they were playing was international. The electronic scene was not that big in Denmark back then — just a few acts — and I was lucky to be part of the wave that started making music instead of just DJing.
For such a small country, Denmark has certainly exported its share of forward-thinking electronic dance music artists — besides yourself: Trentemøller, Safri Duo, WhoMadeWho and When Saints Go Machine to name a few. Do you think Denmark has any unique qualities that make it a creative hotbed for this kind of music? Is there such a thing as a "Danish sound”?
I think there might be a "Scandinavian sound," which is the sort of melancholic vibe that might come from the long, dark and cold winters we have. Also, it's such a small country, so people might inspire each other more and work more together, which can found a stronger local scene. I don't know, it's hard to guess about these things.
You started out in the commercially successful dance duo Filur. Why did you eventually decide to branch off into a solo career? How is producing on your own different than working in a collaborative duo?
We simply both lost that genuine interest in the project, which is needed to maintain a successful career, I guess. But it's only natural, I guess. We had a great run, released some successful and quite commercial disco-house singles and albums, charted really well in Europe and Japan, and won some music awards. But in the end, we both wanted to do different music. Working alone is definitely more lonely, and it makes you have to trust your own instincts a lot more. You cannot lean back and let the other person take over — it's all on yourself.
You've collaborated with and produced records for numerous artists over the years. What draws you or piques your interest in working with a particular artist?
I listen to a lot of different music all the time, and through my travels, I also meet a lot of artists that I find interesting. Then, I often produce a demo track for that specific artist and contact him or her and ask if they want to feature on it. I always find it very rewarding to collaborate, in different ways. I love to have artists that I admire feature on my music, because they bring something extra to my productions. Also, I cant sing [Laughs].
As both a DJ and producer, your sound draws from a broad range of styles, including disco, krautrock, techno, and electro. What turns you on the most musically? Are there any specific sonic elements or ingredients you look for in music?
I am definitely a sucker for cinematic music. Moody and melancholic synthesizer-based music is always good. I love a great melody too. But if the production and programming is crap, it doesn't matter, so those two go hand in hand.
What do you have going on in the studio at the moment? Any forthcoming projects or releases we can look forward to?
Currently, I'm remixing Choir of Young Believers, and then I'm finishing a track for Pachanga Boys' Hippie Dance label. Also, I'm working on new tracks together with my friend Sexy Lazer [Jón Atli] under the silly moniker The Mansisters.
You recently released After Forever Revisited, a compilation of remixes from your 2014 After Forever LP. What can you tell us about this project? What was your approach to reworking the original material?
After Forever Revisited is basically a reinterpretation of the album, where all the songs from the album were remixed by other artists. I asked artists that I'm a fan of, and whose own productions and remixes I very often play in my own DJ sets. So it's both really established acts like Michael Mayer and also new rising stars like Matt Karmil which contributed with some amazing remixes. I'm very proud of how this whole project turned out.
We're looking forward to your gig at Bardot Miami on September 26. What can we expect?
I am also very much looking forward to playing a DJ set in Miami. It's been a few years since I played there. I always try to play a very varied set, not a straight, linear house and techno set, so you can most likely expect influences from all the genres that I love and get inspired by.
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