The prolific, eclectic and cerebral Norwegian, Bård Aasen Lødemel – better known by his moniker Skatebård – has been pushing his productive flair for over near 15 years, bringing the varied sub-genres of dance to life in his own enigmatic style. Whether it’s producing, remixing or DJing in Norway and abroad, Skatebård is a bonafide institution in his own right. We caught up with the Nordic god to talk about how he stays motivated at 40 years young, juggling his eclectic music tastes and negotiating a vault full of unreleased music. This is also accompanied by a 2hr+ mix recorded live at The Villa in Olso, which Skatebård has offered up for a WAV download (“for maximum quality!”).
First our usual ice-breaker, what’s your first musical memory?
I’m just imagining it from what I’ve been told, or perhaps the pan pipes got stuck in my soul, but as a baby my parents were always lulling me to sleep by playing records of traditional music from the Andes Alps. Then I became a big fan of The Beatles and Kiss around the age of four, and won a Charles Mingus record at a lottery when I was five. Of course alongside this I was also a child, so the Norwegian cassette collection of Smurf songs by Geir Børresen was also a favourite.
Your birthday is coming up real soon – 40 right? How are you going to bring that in with an almighty bang?
That is right, this Saturday it is. Just starting to plan a little party.
As you approach 40 how has your style, attitude and outlook to DJing and music production changed since you first started? Can you feel a musical midlife crisis looming?
All this regarding my attitude to the real club culture is the same, actually! Though about commercial pop and club music I feel more distanced from it than ever. Don’t know if it’s me getting old or the music is just more horrible. Think the latter, actually, thinking about genres like trap and EDM. The reason I don’t have a musical midlife crisis is that I play exactly the music I like myself, always. And there are still people in the world who appreciate it, young or old.
Of course your credentials as a producer of electronic music are obvious but I wanted to ask a little bit about your hip-hop and metal roots. Might we see you resurrect these musical exploits again?
The references are always hidden in there somewhere! If I’ll bring it more out in the day, we’ll see. I don’t think so. Though my hip-hop carreer is not just roots, it still lives. I mean the band Side Brok is still alive.
Prolific seems a little bit of an understatement when it comes to your musical output, so do you have any processes or methods to keep you inspired and productive?
At least I’ve tried what was not a good idea necessarily, wanting to get better and more advanced all the time, which resulted in me feeling lost and barely making anything for a full year. But then I instead found out I’d rather go back to basics and do what I do best, and then it was just fun, and tracks gets made.
Like a dance/electronica Prince, is there a Skatebård vault of unreleased material that you did not like THEN but will eventually revisit and release?
Thank you for the Prince analogy! I’m afraid I’m not as great a multi-instrumentalist or songwriter as he was, but there’s a pretty big vault! Many tracks I was working on but never finished. Many just scetches of 1-2 minutes, but could easily be extended.
You seem to occupy all realms of the dance electronic music genres. What makes each genre stand out for you as a producer? Does working with each, offer you something different – like appealing to a different mood and emotion?
Hmm, let’s say I’m very aware of different genres, but it’s not the main thing that I have in mind when I start making a track. It just always develops to a direction, like “this melody needs a 909 kick drum and so and so sounds”, which then defines the track into sub-genres.
You have a discography of great depth but, if pressed to choose, what track comes closes to your idea of perfection and why?
Thank you again. A bit hard to say, but there is one lesser-known track for me that I think is very much the feeling and sound I want to project, namely this one:
As a producer you are one of the names at the forefront of the Norwegian scene, which, 10 years back, only received publicity when the Eurovisons came on! How are things looking on the inside for Norwegian dance music?
I don’t know if there is any inside, really, it just looks that way from the outside. At least I don’t feel much part of any Norwegian scene, I can’t say I do. Well, to a certain degree, but much of the scene has already fled the country. I mainly just know a few people who are making music here and there.
Which Norwegian labels are getting you excited at the moment?
Freakout Cult and Rett i Fletta are pretty good!
Your label Digitalo Enterprises has of course released some firing material. What’s on the diary for the label 2016/2017 and what are you most excited about?
There will be one good 12-inch coming this year – one very long track, one very short track and one very long remix. Then I guess a new one next year. My full back catalogue from Digitalo Ent. is up for listening on Spotify, by the way.
What was the last great music conversation you had, with who, where and what was it about?
The last great music conversation was actually an interview, pretty similar to this but face-to-face [this is via e-mail], with a journalist from Subjekt Magasin, a printed magazine from Oslo, actually the same people who arranged the party at The Villa where I recorded this mix! In front of a very much dancing audience…
What new / young Norwegian talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
I hope I can still call Telephones young, he’s only 34 😉 Also watch out for Double Dancer!
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
As mentioned earlier, it was recorded in a club environment, I brought my little zoom recorder and recorded in case I would play anything good. I think I did, so luck it was recorded! The needle skips a few places, but at least this is very real, and over 2 hours, so I could show some span.
What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for?
There is one 12-inch on Vivod coming soon, perhaps a bit rawer than usual coming from me, these tracks were made according to my “back to basics” idea. And then there is the Digitalo Enterprises 12-inch, perhaps in August, but you never know how long it takes these days with all the 180 g/gatefold classic rock re-pressings and such. The vinyl revival had both good and bad sides, you might say. Mostly good, though!
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