TSC Behind The Decks | Kasper Bjørke
By now Kasper Bjørke work over the years speaks volumes. Over the last 2 decades the Dane has build a long, impressive back catalogue while continuing to push forward, exploring new territory – as a solo artist, in collaborations and as a remixer and a DJ. A seasoned and proven artist, who has established his unique sound over the years with albums such as; “In Gumbo”, “Standing on Top of Utopia” including “Heaven” which got an acclaimed remix by Nicolas Jaar, “Fool”, “After Forever”, and “The Fifty Eleven Project” on Kompakt Records – a two-hour ambient/neo classical work, gathering critical acclaim from i-D Magazine, XLR8R and The Guardian, amongst others.
“The past decade has seen Bjørke steadily rising amongst the ranks of artful, eclectic electronic producers…” XLR8R
The latest production by Kasper Bjørke is his new album “Sprinkles”, described as…
Buy/Stream Kasper Bjørke new album - Sprinkles
“Sprinkles is reminiscent of a utopian postcard sent from the past. Recorded and produced while spending extensive periods of time in the family’s cabin by a secluded beach, Bjørke reflects on what feels like distant memories; the energy and euphoria from his countless DJ gigs over the past decades.”
Following the release party of Kasper Bjørke’s – “Sprinkles”, I talked to the man himself about his new album and how it all came together, producing whilst tucked away amidst nature during lockdown, as well as his proudest moments as a DJ, amongst other.
Hi Kasper, thank you for having me for this interview. First of all congrats on your latest album “Sprinkles” and ‘Tak for sidst’, as you say in Danish, for when we celebrated the album release at new local outdoor club “Hangaren 158” with yourself, Christian d’or, Prom Night and Roman Flugel. What is the feeling for you to be gigging again and playing in front of people? What were thinking when you were playing your set at Hangaren 158?
Thank you! And yeah, tak for sidst! That was a super fun party and the first one I have played with people dancing since February 2020 (!!!) So it was a much needed experience. Being able to play music again, see people’s smiling faces and feel their reaction is something that gives me a lot of energy. It did take me around half an hour to tune myself into the crowd and into playing for a dancing audience again after all this time… but after that I was completely lost in the music and I was reconfirmed in just how much I missed it.
“Sprinkles” was ‘born’ whilst you were in your family summer house north of Copenhagen, during the pandemic. Is it the first time where you find inspiration to produce, while away from the chaos of the city, and in the middle of nature? What effect has this time had on you as a producer, and do you see yourself making this a habit for any upcoming productions?
I also produced a 23 minute long ambient piece for the australian label Longform Editions during the first lockdown, while being in the summerhouse, but making the album Sprinkles happened very spontaneously, intuitively and simply because I was missing music and the experiences from playing gigs as a DJ. Being in the summer house normally means that we as a family try to stay away from work and screens and only spend time with each other, but during the pandemic we spend many months there so I started to use the time while my 2 year old daughter was taking her daily nap for putting down a bunch of ideas for the album on my laptop. In that sense it became my only studio time and I was using those precious minutes or hours a day to have a creative outlet. I guess also a bit to escape the quite stressful time it was during that period of the pandemic. I might start using the summer house more for working on music, yeah but at the same time I would like to keep it as a place where I don’t think about anything but being with the family…
Preview Kasper Bjørke – “Sprinkles” LP out now on hfn music.
In a recent interview that you were very focused during those 90-120 minutes of her naps. Have you always been focused and productive when it comes to music production or did that come with time? Do you have any tips for producers struggling with being effective, and procrastinating with their productions?
Yeah, because I also work as a music manager, around 80% of my working hours are spend on that, so I have to schedule my studio time very efficiently. In that sense I am very used to limited time being a factor, especially since I also have two kids. I also always hold back with going into the studio until I am almost boiling over with an idea or a feeling of creativity…this means it can be weeks in-between I actually sit down in my studio and do any work there.
My tip to others, who are stuck in their process would be to set an alarm clock for one hour and then try your best to put down your idea within that one hour. Move on to a new idea when the alarm rings. And just do a couple of those short sessions a day. Then you can revisit your ideas the next day and see if they are worth pursuing. I rarely get any good stuff done after a few hours in the studio, then I gotta wait and start over or keep refining the ideas I am happy about, over the next days and weeks…
With “Sprinkles” having a more Balearic sound, does this open new opportunities for you to collaborate with new artists, artists you didn’t think of working with before?
When I was choosing remixers for the singles from the album I was definitely thinking about producers that could add something that would resonate with my music, so in that sense the remixers have been chosen based on what the album sounds like. Moving forward, I don’t know, I haven’t really made any plans except that I am working on a new Quartet ambient album as a follow up to the 2018 album The Fifty Eleven Project on Kompakt Records.
Kasper Bjørke – Mirage (Sprinkles LP) one of my personal favourites from the album.
When it comes to producing “Sprinkles”, you’ve said that it was produced on your laptop with midi programmings, software synths and Rolan Cloud’s drum machines, before mixing it in your Copenhagen studio. Have you found new freedom to produce just on your laptop and DAW? And do you see with that a change in sound direction?
I have always been happy about soft synths as a quick way to get to work, but rarely have I used so many and so intentionally and kept them in the final versions of the tracks. I enjoyed using them so much on this album, and I think the sound on the album reflects that via a more clean sound, with less grit, maybe. But I do still have a few analog Prophet synth stems in some of the tracks and also live bass and guitar here and there. They are played by my good friend Tomas Høffding (WhoMadeWho). However, the album consists really of around 90% software based synths.. I can’t say if I will do the same on future projects but it’s certainly nice that it’s possible to work so intuitively on my laptop and with a midi keyboard, from anywhere. I do think I will always seek to incorporate some analog stuff to get my productions out of the grid and get that warmth…
What is the reason for the different ways of productions for you when it comes to Ambient music vs Beat-driven music?
When I produce ambient music it happens without the use of a computer for anything except actually recording the stems. So everything is done live on analogue instruments using a step sequencer, running through various hardware EFXs.
I work closely with a good friend of mine, who has a fantastic analog studio setup with all my dream synths. When I make beat driven music it’s all in the box in my own studio, starting with midi programming the drums and then the bass line and soft synths. I then often re-record some of the synths on analog synthesizers to get more depth and warmth in the sound. Sometimes I also add other instruments as well, having sessions with musicians f.ex. live bass, percussion or guitar.Buy/Stream Kasper Bjørke new album - Sprinkles
How happy are you with the way “Sprinkles” turned out and can we expect a tour of some sort to follow?
I’m very happy with Sprinkles yeah, it has that intuitive light feeling that I was trying to channel when I made it. I wouldn’t have put it out otherwise, haha.
Regarding touring, no not really. I will cherry pick a few international DJ gigs that I would like to play, so I don’t travel more than max one weekend a month and preferably by train to keep my carbon footprint down. This also complicates touring as I also want to spend time with my family.
Having played gigs for more than 20 years and travelled more than enough, I don’t see myself going back on the road every weekend again… at least not while having small children.
Onto you as an artist. What inspired you to become a DJ and Producer? And what musicians inspired you to this day?
I started listening to house music during the mid 90’s, especially the French and US House scene was very inspiring to me; Daft Punk, Cassius, Masters at Work etc. I was buying vinyl records in the local record shops and going to clubs on weekends, which is what got me inspired to try to make music.
DJing came after and sort of a necessity to get out and play the music we were making at the time. I started in a duo with a friend of mine (Tomas Barfod from WhoMadeWho), and we got signed quickly and was send out on tour by the record label, so DJing came after we started making music. I was a very poor DJ during the first years, struggling with both my nerves and the technical aspect of it. I didn’t enjoy it really until maybe around 2005-6.
Today I get inspired by many kinds of different artists and genres both within the Jazz scene, Ambient, Classical, Indie, Hip Hop and even Pop.
Have you had a bucket list of things you wanted to achieve as an artist? If yes, is there anything you still haven’t achieved on that list, and if yes, what is it?
Yeah…. as a DJ I have played at Panorama Bar five times and at Fabric in Room 1, Sonar Festival in Barcelona, Robert Johnson etc etc. These were all places that were on my bucket list and I hope to play some of these venues and festivals again, but if it doesn’t happen, so be it. I feel like I have most boxes ticked off. I would like to play in Japan again, it’s been almost 20 years since I played there, and I would like to take my family there on vacation. But it’s also difficult when we don’t want to fly… We have been talking about the trans siberian railway and then sailing from China to Japan. Let’s see about that though, haha…
You have been booked for several shows in August. What are you most excited about being able to DJ again for a crowd?
Feeling that vibe and the energy from crowd, connecting with the dancers…. Magic.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2021 in terms of upcoming shows/festivals, collaborations? + Anything exciting that you can share with us and your fans?
I am playing at Fort Festival in Spain in October along with Gerd Janson, Jennifer Cardini, Tennis, Erol Alkan and many more. Very excited about that one (even though I sadly have to fly for that gig). Some more gigs pending as well.
There will also be a Sprinkles Remix EP coming out later this year with a bunch of new remixes, while I am working on a EP with my Italian friends “Modular Project”, who I released a track with recently on Permanent Vacation called “Transe Pizza Express”. And then lastly I have a few other collaborations coming up, but it’s too soon to reveal them… stay tuned 🙂
To conclude, in a musical career spanning over 2 decades now, being in a group, managing artists to being a solo artist, what is your proudest moment as an artist?
As a DJ playing at Sonar in Barcelona five years ago in the afternoon at “Sonar By Day” outside. Completely packed and such a great vibe. After being at that festival for so many years as a guest, to finally play there myself was very special.
I could say the same about playing at the Arena stage at Roskilde Festival in 2003 with the group I was in, but on the other hand it felt almost surreal and I wasn’t mature enough to appreciate that experience in some ways.
In terms of my releases in my back catalogue, I think I am most proud of the Quartet ambient album The Fifty Eleven Project from 2018. It’s the most honest work I have done and I still get heartwarming feedback from people for the music which obviously makes me super happy.
Thank you for the interview Kasper Bjørke, it was a pleasure!
Likewise! Thank you for the nice questions!
Buy Kasper Bjørke’s new album Sprinkles here.