Danish techno is in rude health. Courtesy’s liner notes for the debut release on fledgling label Kulør confirm it, citing how “there’s something wild happening in Copenhagen at the moment.” The compilation was as comprehensive an introduction the uninitiated are likely to get, with a cohort of local heroes contributing to a triple-pack LP intended “for the DJs.”
Courtesy’s journey as a label owner didn’t begin there though. Launched back in 2016 with former Apeiron Crew member Mama Snake, the short-lived Ectotherm imprint was an earlier proponent of fast, uncompromising techno emanating out of Copenhagen. Now going full-circle, three of the five Ectotherm records to see the light of day – all of which have been subject to Discogs inflation on the secondhand market – are to be repackaged and reissued on Kulør. We caught up with Rune Bagge, Schacke and IBON to talk about the then and now.
Being only your debut/second release, could you have foreseen its success? Did it feel like you were already onto a winner?
Ibon: Nope, hehe. The tracks from my EP weren’t even made with this in mind. I was just feeling really down and spent all my time in the studio playing keyboard and trying to learn how to make techno.
Rune: I had no idea it would be that well received. ‘Secret Solutions’ and ‘Coup D´Etat’ were two tracks I randomly made in a live set, so I had to try and remake them again. I was just really happy about that someone wanted to release my music – I never thought it would get that much attention.
Schacke: I had a good feeling about the ‘Make Them Remember’ track – it had already been played in Copenhagen for about a year before it’s release, and always seemed to make people go crazy. Since I felt that my first EP on Ectotherm was not particularly well received, I was also consciously trying to make an impression with this second EP, hence the title.
How important was Ectotherm’s role in putting Danish techno on the map?
Ibon: I think really important. I guess it would have happened sooner or later but the timing was really good considering the lack of similar music and the fact that they were getting a lot of attention as DJs at the time.
Rune: I guess it was kinda important at the time when I think about it. There wasn’t really much Danish techno being released at the time, besides Northern Structures and Ctrls. It was also some proper records that got out on Ectotherm, so I think that was a big part of it. I still play them sometimes.
Schacke: I think it was extremely important. I consider Ectotherm and Fast Forward Productions as the birth of the new Copenhagen techno scene, it was the first real platform for our music.
Why do you think Denmark has become such a hotbed for fast, 140 BPM+ techno?
Rune: I think it was because it was what we played, ’90s and early 2000s stuff. Most of the other stuff was often pitched +8, because it was just more fun to play faster tracks. And I think that just kinda got stuck on people maybe. It did for me, hehe.
Schacke: I agree with Rune, we were already playing this style in our DJ sets, so it was only natural that the music we produced would sound similar.
How do you feel about people paying over the odds for your music on Discogs?
Rune: I don’t like that. I don’t think people should pay €50-60 for a record, even though I’ve done that myself many times. It´s just not everybody who can afford to pay that much for a record on the spot. I’ve often been saving up and hoping that the record would still be available, and often it was gone quite fast if there weren’t that many copies for sale. So yeah I don’t want people to pay that much for it, but i also don’t control how the Discogs prices are.
Schacke: I think record sales/prices are overrated in general. It can be a good indicator for how hyped some things are, but I don’t really buy records any more, so I honestly don’t care so much. If people want to spend loads of money on them, it’s up to them. I am fine with the digital files.
Whether it was music, mood, environment or anything else, what, if anything, inspired or influenced this record?
Ibon: For me it was a really emotional time and I was feeling really sad. I found this woman on Facebook who had a page called ‘Annes Keyboardmusikk’. It was just her playing music on this keyboard that kind of makes the groove for you and it said in the description that it was a way for her to deal with the sorrow she was feeling. I got really inspired by the fact that she tried to play away the sorrow or at least coming to terms with it, so I started to do the same. So thats kind of the basis of ‘No Cry’. The melody is like played live in one take on the Juno 106 that we have in the BunkerBauer studios.
Rune: It was a hard time for me when I made the tracks. I was very depressed and I was just sitting in a closet0sized bedroom with my gear making music all the time to distract myself from my thoughts and feelings. I still do that though, so that have’t really changed since then
Schacke: My situation was very similar. I was recovering from depression, trying to relearn to enjoy music. When the EP came out, I was going through a lot of changes in my life, mainly the end of a long relationship was affecting me a lot in this period. I remember being very sad and anxious on the day of my release, it was very strange, having this celebration and all these people congratulating me, while feeling like shit at the same time. Ended out to be an okay day though.
Would you say you’re in a different place creatively now?
Ibon: Yeah for sure. It’s different emotions than back then even though most of my music has some sort of melancholy in it. It’s also easier to make songs I’m satisfied with now as I’ve gotten better at the technical stuff, so it’s more time to design sounds and melodies rather then focus on this.
Rune: Yeah I’m in a very different place now. I make a lot of stuff that’s not techno and that really works for me when I make techno now. I don’t usually spend too much time on my tracks, because I overthink them a lot if I don’t finish them the same day-ish. And I think that works really well for me at the moment
Schacke: Definitely, I feel a lot more confident in what i am doing and honestly I am getting a little fed up with this ‘Copenhagen Sound’ tag that is put upon us. I feel much more motivated to work on different stuff and developing my sound into a different direction. I think a lot of us wants to show that we are capable of more than fast drums and trancey melodies.
Can we expect anything new from you soon?
Ibon: Yes there will be a lot of exiting stuff coming up. Im starting my own label Kengu, and the first release will be a EP I made called Moving Alone, and the next ones will be different collaborations between me and friends. There will also be a new BunkerBauer V/A where I have a pretty old track on, and there will be another VALIS released.
Rune: Yes there’s gonna be some stuff coming out on Northern Electronics, Ownlife and some other labels I’m not really sure i can say yet. I also put stuff up on my Bandcamp page – I recently released a digital EP called Loyalty Over Royalty there. There will be a lot more to come out on there in the future until I can afford to press my own records. I just want to put out my music instead of sitting with more than 100 tracks on my hard drive that people maybe would like. Even though I still have more than 100 tracks that are unreleased, haha.
Schacke: Yes, working on a lot of stuff, I have 2 EPs out in the near future and a couple of remixes and V/A contributions planned as well. I am also working towards starting my own label eventually, but I don’t wanna elaborate more on that at this moment.
Make Them Remember, Three Ways and Ingen Tak Til Systemet are out now on Kulør – buy them here