Podcast 705: Kasper Bjørke
Dream-house groove from a versatile Dane.
Podcast 705: Kasper Bjørke
Dream-house groove from a versatile Dane.
Whether it is an instrumental club track or a foray into ambient, Kasper Bjørke‘s music manages to find that perfect balance of emotion and groove. Growing up in Copenhagen, Denmark, Bjørke fell in love with drum & bass and New York house, and he began releasing his own music in 2005. He’s since proven himself as one of the more prolific and versatile electronic musicians working today, with six albums that touch on post-punk, disco, house, and electro. It’s only recently that he’s veered towards ambient music, and in 2018 he released The Fifty Eleven Project, an interpretation of his emotional state following a shock cancer diagnosis. (If you want to read more about that, check out Bjørke’s Real Talk feature, where he talks about the healing power of music.)
Bjørke’s newest album possesses the same calm and melancholy, but it’s much more uplifting and colourful. After moving to a cabin by a secluded beach with his family, he found himself reflecting on the euphoria from his DJ gigs and steadily, as his listening habits evolved from jazz and ambient to more uptempo stuff, he began to yearn for the dancefloor. He wanted to make an instrumental club album that would capture the energy of one of his DJ sets so, each afternoon, while his daughter was sleeping, he’d sit with his computer in the spare bedroom and allow his intuition to guide him. After several weeks, he had 13 dreamy house grooves, which he took back to Copenhagen and polished off. Sprinkles was born.
Bjørke recorded his XLR8R podcast in the same spot he recorded the album, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s characterized by the same naive melodies and simple arrangements. Featuring Fort Romeau, Kim Ann Foxman, and Benjamin Fröhlich, plus yet another dazzling Roman Flügel remix, the mix is filled with the older music that Bjørke has been listening to during lockdown, which ultimately stirred up his desire to record Sprinkles. What unites them, besides the fact that they caught Bjørke’s ear, is that they’re filled with fun, feel-good grooves that’ll make you want to smile and dance.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been releasing four new singles including remixes from Eden Burns, 1-800 Girls, and Roman Flügel, and I’ve finished a track with Modular Project that is coming out on the Permanent Vacation 7 compilation. I’ve also been working on the next ambient album that is coming out on Kompakt, which is a slow process because it involves a lot of studio sessions with different musicians and a lot of editing and mixing work because it’s all recorded live. But it’s super rewarding work and I feel a closer connection to this ambient path.
02. What is it that draws you to electronic music?
I started building a vinyl collection when I was just around eight years old, collecting movie soundtracks. When I was a teenager I was a fan of golden era hip-hop (’87-’92) and that led me to drum & bass and later to New York house music, and then in the mid-’90s to the French wave of house music with Cassius and Daft Punk. I think it was the energy, the patterns, and the endless possibilities within the many aspects of electronic music that drew me to trying out producing music for the first time, and I haven’t stopped since!
03. What have you been listening to in lockdown?
At home, I listen mostly to jazz and ambient music, and during lockdown that didn’t change, to begin with. I like music that calms my nerves and the pandemic was and is stressful, but once I really started to miss playing gigs, I began listening to uptempo stuff that I would play in my sets and got immensely inspired by it.
04. You’ve got a new album on the way, Sprinkles. Tell us about it.
During the first year of the pandemic, we spent long periods in the family summerhouse right by the ocean in Denmark, far away from the city. We were just kind of in a bubble there. However, this past winter, after I started to listen to uptempo music while staying there, surrounded by nature and the ocean, I found myself inspired to do a new album, specifically a positive summer album. I guess it was sort of needed escapism and I made it very intuitively just on my laptop because that was all I had with me. It’s full of balearic vibes and dream house grooves, which is just the way I imagined.
05. Where and when did you record this mix?
I’ve been making the mix this past week while being in Sweden in a cabin right by a beautiful lake with my family.
06. What setup did you use?
Because I am away in Sweden, I had to use just my laptop.
07. How did you go about choosing the tracks that you’ve included?
I’ve been catching up on a lot of new music this past month and also digging through a lot of older stuff that I really like and want to play again. So it’s just a summer mix of new and old tracks, and I also threw in some of my own stuff.
08. Where do you imagine the mix being listened to?
Hopefully at a good house party before going out to dance, or while driving to your next holiday destination.
09. As gigs open up, what’s next on your horizon?
The day after my album is released, I’m playing my first outdoor party with 500 people. It’s sort of an album celebration and it’s happening at this hangar in an industrial part of Copenhagen harbor. I’ve been able to invite Roman Flügel to play as headliner, which I am excited about, and there are also going to be two of my Copenhagen DJ friends, Christian d´Or and Prom Night. Roman recently remixed my single from the upcoming album called “Baybi.” Tomas Barfod from WhoMadeWho, my old music partner, is doing a mini-festival in Copenhagen in August that I am also looking forward to playing. And then I’m playing Fort Festival in Spain in October with Jennifer Cardini, Gerd Janson, Erol Alkan, Red Axes, and Patrice Bäumel. It got postponed last year and it looks like it will be my first international gig since February 2020!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. Kasper Bjørke “Grace” (hfn Music)
02. Brian Ring “Emperors Dance” (12” Mix) (Clutching At Straws)
03. Benjamin Fröhlich “One More Time” (Hammer Remix) (Permanent Vacation)
04. Kasper Bjørke “Running” (Eden Burns Remix) (hfn Music)
05. Danilo Plessow “Nightfall” (fabric Records)
06. COEO “I Can Never Be Yours” (Toy Tronics)
07. Storken “Mylta” (Storkenland)
08. Kasper Bjørke “Baybi” (Roman Flügel Remix) (hfn Music)
09. Fort Romeau & Pantera Krause “Omicron 8” (Live at Robert Johnson & Riotvan)
10. Kasper Bjørke “RDVSpecial” (hfn Music)
11. Kim Ann Foxman “Magic Magic” (Matisa Remix) (Firehouse)
12. Elbee BaD The Prince Of Dance Music “New Age House” (Rush Hour)