Deep House Sweden recently celebrated the last few days of summer in Malmö with a blissful two-day open air electronic festival of sunshine, good vibes, and an amazing lineup. The festival took place in the middle of Folkets Park, and drew people from all over southern Sweden and even across the bridge from Copenhagen
For some, electronic music is about hard-hitting kicks, dark rooms, and huge crowds. But Backyard Sessions XL touched on something deeper than relentless warehouse bass; it had the unique feeling of a community coming together to appreciate music as something more. The overall energy of the festival was way more intimate than a club – of course the airwaves were bursting with grooving bass lines and riveting melodies, but the ambiance somehow managed to stay carefree, warm and welcoming throughout the entire weekend.
Backyard Sessions XL drew deep house aficionados with a lineup packed with high profile DJs from all over the world, including live sets from Recondite, ANNA, and Giorgia Angiuli. To have this talented array of artists all in Malmö, filling the park with their eclectic dance music for two whole days was something special. “We never get to see this kind of thing in Copenhagen,” one Danish attendee said. “There’s something special about Malmö that you can have people come together for electronic music at an outdoor festival in the city and keep the vibe so feel-good.”
Sunny all day-parties filled with glitter-clad partygoers at two outdoor stages were followed by a three-stage dance floor inside Moriska Pavillion that flowed late into the night. It seemed that everyone was there to have a good time – the only agenda was to listen to great music. The Forumist was lucky enough to have the chance to sit down and chat with three of our favorite acts of the weekend.
The Deer Tracks
Elin Skeppstedt and David Lehnberg are the faces behind the Swedish electronic duo that make up The Deer Tracks. They’ve been putting records out into the indie electronic Swedish and international scene since 2008, and are best known for the complex melodies and experimental instruments that make up their atmospheric sound. When we caught them for an interview we were astounded by their serene dispositions, especially since it was mere moments after watching them slam through their soundcheck with an energetic, yet brooding rendition of the song Gossip.
People have described the sound of your music as ‘ethereal.’ We wonder what this word means to you in terms of your own music.
David: Ah, that’s tough. That’s a good first question.
Elin: I’m thinking about it as airy, floating, and not bound by any common rules.
David: I’m thinking the same way – something that is free and boundless, that you can go through anywhere, through anything. I think that music is the universal language of mankind. And it all connects in that way if its ethereal. It goes beyond and through anything.
On your new album, ‘Undersvik,’ is there a meaning behind the album name? What is the connection with the Swedish village of Undersvik?
David: It’s a tiny, tiny place, and I don’t even know how many people live there – probably a couple hundred people.
Elin: Actually, we did a radio gig, and they did an interview afterwards and they asked us about our plans. We often go to a cabin or something, so we just said on the radio that we were looking for a place to record our next album and we asked listeners to come up with suggestions. And there was this wonderful woman who had bought an old school building in Undersvik…so she invited us to stay there – we stayed there for ten days and recorded the album.
David: We wrote it and recorded it in ten days. We had been out on a tour in the US for about three months or something, and then we came home, had Christmas and went out to the cabin.
What influence did this location – the abandoned school building – have on the album?
David: I think it’s the way we work. We need to relocate ourselves from everything, all our friends and families, just turn everything off and try to go into the process of doing music. Being only in that moment. If you go somewhere where you don’t know anyone, you don’t know the place, it’s the first time you’re there, at least it works this way for me – I can just take in whatever inspiration I get from the place and try to focus it down to the musical material. So that’s why we’ve been doing it that way. Every time we play one of those songs live – it’s like I’m seeing those landscapes and me sitting there at 5 in the morning trying to get a beat, trying to make it work.
Elin: I also found great inspiration in the environment at Undersvik, hearing all the sounds of the ice creaking and the surreal noises it makes.
From this new album, which song do you enjoy playing live the most?
David: I like playing Gossip. I think it’s an energetic song, for me at least. It’s a busy song.
Elin: I enjoy playing Gossip, but also Little Child. There are different sections to the song, often our songs have different sections. But in this song the rhythms are very intriguing for me, so I really like that one.
Is there anything unique you bring to the live set? We noticed you have a record spinning on stage.
David: Me and Elin are the only constant pieces in Deer Tracks, we collaborate with people and this time we brought [Slim Vic] in….He takes some parts of the latest record and puts it into the music again. Recycling, resampling from the record into the songs. We are really trying to make the live version of Deer Tracks something more, something else. And every time, we are trying to make it something different, so every time it’s not the same.
We noticed that you guys have lots of different side projects, different bands, and a label. How do you balance so many things, or what do you feel the most dedicated to moving forward? If this is the last show, obviously something is coming next.
David: We’ve been playing together for such a long time – so I think we both need to go on our separate journeys for a bit, just to find something new. We’ve been so tight and playing music for so long – being constantly on tour and doing records and stuff. It’s not so much about priorities. It’s more like I need to expand my view, so I can bring something new into this. That’s how I see it. Even if I do my solo stuff and Elin does her solo stuff, or if I’m playing in another band and she’s playing in another band – it’s still all going to add to Deer Tracks, in the way that the people from The Deer Tracks are doing it and we will bring it back into the band. Everything builds.
DJ Ena Cosovic
Ena Cosovic is a DJ that does not back down. She burst into the electronic scene when she was just a teen and is now a resident DJ at the renowned Copenhagen club Culture Box. A multi-talented artist, Ena has also experimented in pop music, but she found her real home and true focus within electronic music, and has been spinning her eclectic mixes all over Europe ever since. Ena is the co-founder of her own label, True Rotary Recordings, which will be putting out its 4th record with Joel Atler and Quarion in September, followed quickly by Ena’s EP in January 2017. We had the chance to speak with the charismatic self-starter about her roots right before her beautiful set with Josefin Hellström Hannsen.
Your style and sense of sound is often described as genuine. For you, in terms of your music, what does the word genuine mean?
Ena: Well first of all, I’m really happy that people feel that way. But I think the reason why I come across like this is because I’m really intuitive in terms of when I make music but also when I play music. I never plan my sets because it all depends on the room and the people and the vibe. For me to DJ, or to perform, is a partnership you kind of form with the audience, with the dancers. I get inspired by the people that I play towards, so I can make mistakes, I can go left, I can go right – but I’m very much in the moment…I always put a finger up in the air and see which direction the wind is going and see where I can take people, because I want ultimately for people to have an amazing experience. It all depends on who is in the room, who is there to dance with me.
Is there a story behind how you moved here and got started in Copenhagen?
Ena: Well I was born in Bosnia, in 89. As you know the civil war broke out in about beginning of the 90s. That’s why we moved from Bosnia, we were refugees when we moved to Denmark. Because I come from the Muslim side of the Balkans. My family is Muslim and unfortunately that meant that we had to leave my native city…If the civil war hadn’t broken out, I would probably still be living in Bosnia and be living a very different life. But I’m very grateful for living in Scandinavia and calling Denmark my home, though I very much appreciate my Balkan roots and I always visit my family there. I’m a cultivated Balkan in Scandinavia.
How long have you had your residency at Culture Box and how has it evolved your music?
Ena: I started going out when I was very young – about 13 or 14 – braces, sneaking into clubs… I started in that scene quite early and fell in love with electronic music. What I mostly fell in love with was watching the DJ connect with people on the dance floor and seeing the synergy evolve between the two parties. Also listening to music that I just did not know where else to listen to – it wasn’t played on the radio, I couldn’t find it anywhere – I was super inspired. And in the beginning of the Culture Box era, I got to know Kenneth Christiansen who was the founder. And he kind of took me under his wing; he was my mentor for many years and gave me that residency five years ago. And it has formed me tremendously as a DJ, as a selector, and also just giving me the confidence to continue and believe in myself and my dream. He gave me a home. I saw Culture Box as my musical school basically and I’m very grateful for that.
Does keeping your sets true to their pure analogue roots have to do with the name of your label, True Rotary?
Ena: Well that’s a funny thing. I started the label with my boyfriend Joel Alter, who’s also a producing DJ. And we both fly-fish, so the name has to do with that. Everybody thinks that it’s because of the rotary mixer, but it’s not and that’s the funny part. In fly-fishing, when you tie your own fly you have to use a [fly tying vice]. Renzetti made a version that’s called True Rotary. And that’s what it’s named after actually. We were wondering for so long what to call the label and one night we were just home, smoking a joint, and I had just given Joel that as a present. And we were just sitting on the sofa, the box was right in front of us and we both looked it simultaneously and laugh. That’s the name.
If you could add anything to your studio – anything in the world – what would it be?
Ena: I don’t think it would be anything in the studio, but I think I would be a better person, and a better producer, and a better DJ – if I had a really small cottage in Italy! It’s my favorite place in the world to play. I love it. Their music and culture, their vibe. I just really think that I become a better human being when I visit Italy and come back to Scandinavia. And it also affects my music and my way of perceiving music and creating music. So I think the best add-on to my studio would be me spending more time in Italy, coming back, getting inspired and creating music in Denmark.
With rumors of an EP coming out early next year, Helga Keller is an emerging Swedish artist to watch out for. She played in Malmö for the first time at Backyard Sessions, and blew us all away with her striking set. Helga’s sound is inspired by the cosmos and her groovy arrangements sent us hurtling through space with twists and turns during the night party in Moriska Pavillion. We were excited to catch her backstage to ask her a few questions.
So how did you get started in music?
Helga: I’ve been playing classical piano since I was 8, and I’ve been in competitions – music has just been a big part of my life since I was a child. But I felt just I wanted to explore so much more, and I felt kind of pushed under with classical music because there are so many rules in it. So when I discovered electronic music, I listened to the first album of Trentemøller, and my mind got blown away. I was like, shit, this is a completely different world and I need to get into it.
And when did all this happen?
Helga: I think I must’ve been about 17 when I listened to the album. And I had some friends because I had been in a lot of bands; they were also into production and recording – that’s when I first started discovering the production world and realized I just had to do it myself. Since then, I’ve just basically been on my computer and my laptop, trying to find the coolest tunes and beats.
Do you make everything on the computer or do you use a lot of external equipment?
Helga: Since I play piano, I play lot and I sing sometimes too. I try as much as possible to start from scratch and not use any other sounds, not to use so many samples. I just try to be as open as possible to any creativity basically.
It’s pretty impressive that you DJ’d your own tracks for the whole set. You must have a lot of content to work with!
Helga: Ya, I do. I always forget what I have. Sometimes I go through my list and go…oh! I did this! Let’s start with it again. Cuz sometimes it doesn’t feel right so you move on. And as time passes, you develop a lot and the music develops with you in a way. You can’t always use it at that point, but at some other point you can take a part of it that’s still you, but put a new touch to it and reconstruct it.
How did you feel when you’re up there on stage?
Helga: Oh, I loved it. I’ve been on stage so many times and I have DJ’d before, but never my own tracks. This time it was so personal, so I was really nervous at the same time. But when I got started, I lost track of time, I lost track of anything – I just so enjoyed it. And people seemed to really enjoy it too. You get that kind of connection with your crowd and that’s the most special thing.
Words by Eimi Tagore-Erwin
Special thank you to Jerome Lantheaume and Deep House Sweden