Funk D’Void talks synths, t-shirts and after hours fun

Lars Sandberg AKA Funk D’Void, who by the way is actually half Swedish is a DJ and producer who has been involved in the global electronic music scene since the mid-90s. He started DJing at around the tender age of 15, running two under-18 clubs himself – a perfect start to his career. Knowing his vocation to music from an early age after being brought up by his professional pianist mother, Lars never had any doubt as to where his future would lie. House music changed his life, the early Chicago sound specifically, and hearing the certain sounds during his childhood stirred something inside him; the 808 drum machine used on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” secured his fascination with these electronic sounds – the turning point over to the Detroit techno sound was almost a spiritual moment as it forged his unique sound that would follow over the coming years – visceral, soulful and without compromise.

After a string of hits over the years (“Jack Me Off”, “Bad Coffee” “Emotional Content”) plus some killer remixes for the likes of Underworld, New Order and Kevin Saunderson, he is probably best known for the end-of-nighter ‘Diabla’ which bridged house and techno (and was flogged by everyone from Danny Howells to Sven Vath). And if you look carefully you’ll also spy the name ‘L. Sandberg’ in the liner notes of releases by deep house producer Francois Dubois, whose “Blood” and “I Try” were huge underground hits of 06 and 07 respectively. Collaborations with such luminaries as Phil Kieran and more recently Sian have produced stellar results – further galvanising his diversity in the techno arena and has led us to the somewhat overdue arrival of his own personal label, Outpost.

Much in demand DJ and critically acclaimed producer, his DJing style is everything you expect a true music lover’s taste to be: he is comfortable and adept at moving any dance floor, the proof being that he is one of the busiest DJs on the circuit today, and has been for the last 15 years.

Welcome Lars, It’s a pleasure to get the opportunity to chat with you. I hope you’re well?

Fine thanks very much! Enjoying this sweltering day in fine Barcelona.

Your love for music obviously started very young, even running two under 18 club nights. How did the opportunity to start the nights arrive and how successful were they?

I had been knocking around clubs for a couple of years (since the age of 14, I was a big lad!) so basically just knocked on the door of a club called Henry Afrika’s along with my business partner/ school mate and demanded that they give us a night. They ended up giving us the whole weekend! We ran the nights for about one year with moderate success, it was after then that I got my break in another club called The Choice, run by successful Glaswegian entrepreneur Colin Barr. I haven’t kept in touch with my old business partner but the last time I heard from him he turned into a Golf pro!

Growing up in Glasgow what were the regular nights or clubs you attended?

Tin Pan Alley, Sub Club (my University!), The Choice, The Tunnel…the first night that got me into house & techno was the House & Garage Club, every monday in Tin Pan Alley…ran by Keith from Desert Storm fame! It was a good time be young in Glasgow during the 90s.

Do you have a memorable story from your clubbing days you could tell us about?

Where to start. I’m keeping them all for my novella, although there’s a lot of missing pages from my brain :) There’s a classic story that Pero Fullhouse will remember when we did a beach party in Croatia one summer that was completely destroyed by a typhoon…the projector from the stage got lifted up by the wind and blown out to sea…the next day records and headphones were found washed up on the beach after everyone had evacuated the area. I still remember people dancing under a wooden pier close shore, protected from the rain before the twister came!

With your mother being a professional pianist this must have had a resounding effect on you musically? Is this where the basis of your music production began?

She used to bring home synths from her work in the BBC so I had great fun playing them, I guess that started me off…also she had some great jazz records and a reel-to-reel that was fascinating to me. I used to go on the road with her as well for some of her gigs, which was also a great learning experience. I was always a bit scared of touching her baby grand piano though!

You now share a studio with Andy Cato from Groove Armada and run a club called Antidote. How did the relationship between you both begin?

We used to share a studio together around 2008…fun times! We still keep in touch and always have a laugh when we meet up.

Have your individual sounds/style rubbed off on each other at all?

Mmmmm I think we both have our own styles but appreciate each other’s.

Who have been your favourite artists you have collaborated with and why?

Phil Kieran, Dave Tarrida and Sian I think have been the most fun…basically I work with friends who I get on with in real life. I find it difficult to collaborate usually so I haven’t really pursued it any more – although working with Andres Aguirre recently has produced some great results – we have a project called The Tweakers.

Is there any artist you would still love to work with and why?

These days it’s tough enough to find the time to work alone and I have so many personal unfinished projects that I’ll have to raincheck that one!

Growing up in Glasgow and now living in Barcelona do you find your surroundings have an effect on your production?

Not really…I mean, sometimes it’s too hot to work in Barcelona – so it affects my output! I think being younger without having kids and responsibilities definitely made writing tracks easier, these days being a single parent I rarely get the chance to even get in the studio! I prefer having Barcelona as a backdrop to my life than the UK though.

Are there any stand out comparisons between the UK scene and the Spanish scene in the ways nights are run and promoted to the crowds and general clubbing etiquette?

I think the focus in Spain is more on the event production than themusic quality although I’m not really the right person to ask since I’m in my mid-40s and don’t go clubbing as much!!!

You also produce under another alias. Where is the line drawn with Funk D’void and Francois Dubois? Does material sometimes end up being released under one alias when the original intent was for the other?

Yes sometimes. When the label ask me for a FDV remix and I end up going too deep so I ask them to put “Funk D’Void aka Francois Dubois remix” just to clarify that I made it with that sound. I like to keep the styles separate…”Lovin” was much more Dubois than D’Void but Soma released as FDV….

How important is artist branding becoming nowadays, especially with record labels becoming a big part of artist’s identity? For example Adam Beyer and Drumcode, John Digweed and Bedrock etc?

Super important if that’s what you want to become… a brand. I’m more about the intimate connection with cool people and meeting like-minded listeners rather than being just another face in a crowd that’s not entirely sure why they are there. Although that’s not a bad thing either, it’s just a different form of escape. I hear good music that I want to release, I release it. Not every week, mind…you have to pull back sometimes from releasing so-so samey-sounding stuff that big brandy labels seem to be doing these days…

A frequently asked question to artists is where they draw inspiration from to write tracks. I’ve sometimes wonder how tracks get there name. Are there any stories as to how some of your music was titled?

I used to write well when dating someone, but that hasn’t happened for a while…so I now just write for CASH!! Seriously though, I usually write when I feel like it….and the A/C in the studio is working well.

What new material and collaborations can we expect from you which are due for release soon?

New Soma LP and new Outpost EP.

If it’s possible to pick, what is your one defining dance music track which struck your heart and made you pursue a profession in dance music?

Rhythim is Rhythim “Nude Photo”…it started it all within me.

What are your current top 10 tracks?

1. First Date “Orphan Planet”
2. Andres Aguirre “6”
3. Gary Beck “Get Together”
4. Dave Tarrida “Data Reader”
5. Miki Craven “18:00”
6. Tiger Stripes “Keep A Movin”
7. Roman Lindau “Architechture Amour”
8. Paul Ritch “Brainwash”
9. Dustin Zahn “Calm like a bomb (Slam remix)”
10. Chambray “Rub”

We are delighted you have provided us with an exclusive live mix. Can you tell us the story behind it? Where was it recorded, what was the club like and atmosphere?

Well, it’s kind of exclusive to your listeners and my followers on Soundcloud (my lovely fans!)…it was recorded at one of my fave afterhours clubs in the USA, Rise club in Boston…the club was great fun but not so busy – which is another thing I don’t mind, if the club is empty or full as long as somebody gets the music it’s a success.

Something people may not know is you also run a clothing company. Can you tell us more about why you decided to get into fashion and where we can buy your clothing? A recent t-shirt design saying “Fuck Berlin- Barcelona Has A Beach” is a favourite of ours!

I mess around with designs, I’m in talks with a new distributor in Germany to do a limited edition run of the t-shirt you mentioned, all wrapped up in a 12″ numbered vinyl box. More shirts to come!

Juggling work and personal life is important especially with two children. How do you find the right balance?

It’s really difficult and my music is suffering as a result….I need some help over here!!

Lars, It’s been a pleasure chatting. Finally is there anything else you would like to tell us about that you have planned for 2014/15.

Looking forward to hanging out with friends old and new at Moondance festival, Trogir and also doing my new LP tour for Soma, it’s been over 10 years since my last one….

About the Author

UK based former DJ and promoter, co-owner, director, writer & creative at Decoded Magazine. Studied at the University of Wolverhampton graduating in Graphic Communication & Typography (BA Hons). In house video editor and avid MMA follower with a keen ear for dark, twisted, hypnotic, tribal progressive house and techno.