Interview and exclusive playlist from legendary Norwegian DJ and producer.
Bjørn Torske’s influence over Norwegian house and disco cannot be overstated. His blissed-out spacey & dubby selection has been a major influence on artists such as Todd Terje, Prins Thomas and Lindstrøm. His style has been uncompromising from his early releases in the 90s to his most recent album “Byen”, and has contributed to his cult status, both internationally and in his home country. We caught up with Bjørn Torske ahead of his set at Steviewonderland on Friday.
Bjørn Torske’s playlist
How did you get into music and what were some of your early influences?
I was always into music from a very young age, having older sisters with a defined music taste and plenty of records. However my defining moments leading me into this dj and production thing was getting acquainted with electronic music in the 1980s, especially early electro and hip hop, as well as synthesiser based pop and disco music. Africa Bambaataa, Yello, Art of Noise, and of course the early house music from Chicago were all instrumental in forming my tastes in music.
I’ve read you’re quite a prolific digger, what are some of your favourite spots to shop?
I’m mostly interested in finding small, overlooked second hand stores, preferably ones with more or less randomly stacked shelves where you can spend hours or even days digging for those hidden gems. It appears you can find these shops in any big city around the globe. I often stumble across them more or less on accident, and I’m not very good at remembering names so I couldn’t really specify. Of course, I love to go to more established outlets too, like Hardwax in Berlin, Honest Jon’s and Phonica in London, Vinyl Exchange and Piccadilly in Manchester, Rush Hour and Red Light in Amsterdam… to name a few.
You recently recorded and released your first solo album in seven years Byen, what was your inspiration for the album, and how was the experience?
Travelling. Big cities. Small towns. I had a bunch of sketches and half baked ideas, and sitting on a plane from Sapporo to Osaka last October, I listened through them and though, well, maybe I’ve got an album here. So I basically just set off two months to put them all together, being way more structured doing it than I have usually been in the past. It was a very refreshing way to work, almost dogmatic in the sense that I would make a plan for each track, how to develop it technically. We booked the mastering session early to have a fixed deadline.
Can you tell us about your work with Prins Thomas?
did three or four days of recording, all from scratch and pretty slapdash in fashion, our basic ideas being vague and very much controlled by the equipment and studio environment. These recording sessions were then more or less shelved for almost a year, since both of us have our own careers, which includes a lot of travelling. Slowly we did edits of these recordings until we realised we were ready to mix them. So we got another three days in a mixing studio, doing all analogue mix downs which we then edited down to more record-friendly lengths.
How do you approach your DJ sets these days?
I have a sufficient collection of records, I keep digging through it and whenever I find something interesting that I haven’t played for a while, I’ll give it a few plays and if it hits me, well, into the bag it goes. Of course, I have records that are more or less stationary in my bag, but I like to keep changing my palette. It’s too easy to only keep playing the more or less obvious records, I like to challenge myself and the dance floors. And of course I always dig for records too, so wherever I go I try to find something interesting.
Have you played at Corsica Studios before?
I have played a live set there, it must have been 5 or 6 years ago, I can’t remember. It was a really nice experience, especially the sound system worked really well. I’m really excited to DJ there for the first time, especially since it is a somewhat lengthy set – and not least since Brian and Baldelli are in the next room!
What do you have planned for 2019?
More travelling, more releases. You will be updated on the latter when summer is near.
Bjørn Torske plays at Steviewonderland this Friday. You can find tickets here.