Every now and again I get to indulge my inner fan boy by picking DJs I really like. Erik is one of those DJs, and for over 10 years the Norwegian dance scene has been enriched by his inspired slant on the deep house aesthetic.
With plaudits ranging from Omid16B, Danny Howells and Luke Fair, its clear to see this affable DJ/producer has an international appeal, in fact, Desyn Masiello asked Erik to be his A&R at Alternative Route recordings back in the mid 2000s such was his ear for a tune, and dogged determination to uncover great music. Signed to a number of influential house labels, his skills in the studio have now been noticed by progressive house super brand Global Underground, who will feature one of his tracks in their forthcoming Electric Calm CD.
As Rowen Blades (Breeder) puts it ever so succinctly “Not bad for an ex-reindeer driver.” Lets meet the man himself…
Hi Erik, thanks for finding the time to chat to me. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Erik from Oslo, I’ve been DJing since 2001. When I got booked for my first gig, I needed a DJ name. I racked my brains for ages and finally took the name of a band had a cd single of on my desk – The Balearic Sound Collective – from there I got my DJ name balErik.
I’ve been playing all around Oslo, and also been fortunate to be booked many cool places around Europe, the Middle East, Japan and North America, despite not having released many big tunes. I love to play anything from deep house to techno and sometimes even some downtempo and drum & bass.
Can you tell us about growing up in Norway? What was the scene like in the early days, and where did you go to party?
The Oslo scene is pretty small but very good, all the years since I started to go out, lots of quality DJs in Oslo, and a few clubs that are great. I started to go out when I was 18, mostly on my own, as my mates would rather go to some commercial places to pick up girls. But I met some cool people pretty quickly, and always met someone to hang out with.
When I started to go out in 1998 I mostly went to small clubs like Fonii & Skansen, where the DJs always played great underground house music. In ’99 when I was in the army, I met Andre Hesselroth who later started one of the best nights in Oslo called Odyssey. I went to most of their nights, they had some great local DJs (Vidar Kroken, Inkfish & Omega) alongside some cool bookings from abroad. From all the parties I got inspired by the great music, and found so many great tunes I never hear anyone play out. So I thought I should start to DJ myself. I ended up getting my first proper gig at the Odyssey night!
How have things changed over the years, and where is the best places to go now?
Some clubs have closed down, but new ones have opened. I guess there were more clubs before, but now maybe we have 3 main ones for underground house & techno. Dj G-ha & Olanskii, who are two of the most well known Oslo DJs. Some of my favourite local guys have been in the game since before I started to go out, and they are still doing great things in the city. Olanskii and his partners opened a club called Jaeger a few years ago, and it is one of my favs. They have a great basement with Funktion 1 sound and F1 sound in an open air courtyard as well. Top vibe every day of the week, which is very impressive.
The Villa is another club that has been running for quite some time now, and it is a dark basement with a massive F1 sound system. The Villa & Jæger book foreign DJs every week, and whenever you go to either of these clubs you will get quality music. These are the places I frequent the most.
Theres also Blå; a warehouse type of venue with a massive sound system. They do a lot of various styles of music, and house & techno a couple of times per month. Def worth a visit alongside Jæger and The Villa. Fisk & Vilt & Dattera Til Hagen also have great parties, but these clubs are a little smaller, but still a great vibe.
Wow, sounds like the Oslo scene is buzzing! We understand you’re quite an accomplished producer too. Could you talk us through your latest release for Global Underground? How did the track take shape and what techniques did you use for the sound design?
To be honest, I do not see myself as an ‘accomplished producer’, I have made tunes with my friend Vadim Yershov before (who IS great by the way; you should check out his music), and picked up a lot from him. The tune that GU picked up, I made about 2 years ago and thought nobody would want a 95 bpm house track.
Then a few months ago I saw Global Underground was looking for some downtempo music, so I sent it over. They liked the track a lot, but they thought it had too much energy, so they asked me to change the bass to be less energetic and make longer breakdowns and some other things. I ended up redoing quite a bit of the track and sent over 2 versions and they liked both, and mentioned later that they had used some of both versions in the upcoming Electric Calm CD comp.
I made the track in Ableton, I was originally inspired by Benoit & Sergios’ – Around The World cover. So I tried to make something similar in a way. I used various VSTs like Sylenth and Atmosphere, and a cheeky vocal sample. I am still learning a lot in Ableton and my friends have been helping me with mix downs. I have almost finished two more tracks, which are more upbeat and housey, and I hope to maybe get signed to a label in the future. Olle Abstract, a local DJ legend has been playing one of them.
Tell us little about the mix you’ve made for us. What inspired you to choose the tracks on the mix?
I have a folder full of downtempo tracks I have been collecting and play at certain bar gigs, so it was fun to browse through them and try to make a mix. It varies a lot in bpm, and it was impossible to beat mix most of them, so it is not like a standard DJ set I normally do. it features deep funk, downtempo, ambient, drum & bass in the mix.
With streaming so much in the news at the moment, can you tell us about your day job working for Tidal? How do you see the next 5 years develop in terms of our consumption of music?
I started working for WiMP in 2011 which is now called TIDAL, and I have seen streaming has grown a lot in popularity. I mainly do global customer support over email these days. HiFi streaming can be challenging in certain parts of the world because of bandwith, but luckily the internet is getting better and better.
I do believe the streaming model might change in the next 5 years. Now you pay 20 dollars to have access to 30 million songs in TIDAL. Do you need it? No. I listen to my favs and so does another customer, we do not need access to everything.
So I believe that in the future, you might just pay for the music you unlock or stream. So your favourite artists get your money only. I think that streaming services have come to stay, and the normal customer does not need to buy CDs, files or records anymore. Personally, I still like to buy tunes since I am a DJ, and most of the music I play is not available in the streaming services anyway, but it is getting better, and I think more house and techno lables are uploading to the streaming services.
We understand you played at a silent disco recently. How did you find the experience?
It was a fun and strange experience to play at a Silent Disco. I had no monitors so had to do all the mixing in the headset, but my mate told me to just switch the monitor button to master, which worked fine. People seemed to enjoy the music and I would not mind doing it again, but then hopefully they can install subs, so you can feel the bass which the bigger Silent Discos use.
Well its been great to chat Erik, best of luck with the GU comp which is out soon. Finally, where can we catch you playing over the next few months?
I am waiting for a couple of confirmations for some gigs here in Oslo and maybe something in Iceland and Mexico in November. One of my best mates is moving to London soon, so hopefully we can do some parties there in the future as well!!
01// KID Loco – Flyin’ On 747 (Jazzy Dub)
02// Melchior Sultana – Reminisce
03// Nightmares on Wax – You Wish
04// From P60 – Water
05// Maayan Nidam – Merry Go Round
06// Kruder & Dorfmeister – Black Baby
07// Afterlife – Midnight
08// DJ Cam – Bronx Theme
09// Melchior Sultana – World Is History
10// balErik – Don’t You Ever Know (GU Version)
11// X-Press 2 – Debt To Pay For Freedom (The Ballistic Brothers Unreleased Remix)
12// Maertini Broes – Audiopark 2002
13// Flytronix – Heavy Traffic
14// Bonobo & Bajka – Nightlife
15// Mr.Scruff – So Long
16// Antwon – Living Every Dream
17// Flytronix – Zigzag
18// Melchior Sultana – Deamons