This remix of Harrys Gym (who kind of sound like the Norwegian Blonde Redhead) by diskJokke aka Joachim Dyrdhal kind of sounds like something you’d play at a “beach rave”. While we’ve never been to a “beach rave” (They happen in Croatia?), we hope that they are chock full of these kind of smooth, funkified jams to bliss out to. Dyrdahl belongs to a set of Oslo-based beatmasters and DJ’s that are pumping out some of the most cavernous and euphoric disco music in the world right now, revolving around the legendary, still-running Sunkissed party. Most recently, he’s been working on his own concoction of heady four/four psych-outs and his first long player, entitled Staying In, which will be released on March 11 through Smalltown Supersound. We rang up Dyrdhal on a calm Friday evening to chat about his music, this remix, and his secret nerd life as a mathematician.
Download: Harrys Gym, "Attic (diskJokke remix)
Interview by Sam Duke
So you’ve studied math for 8 years?
Well this is my fifth year, I’ve been studying for eight years but I took a two year break to focus on music.
What kind of math?
Analysis and differential equations.
Was that what going to be your profession—being a mathematician?
After finishing my bachelor’s degree I wanted to quit studying, because I wanted to try to live for music. But after three years, I had just started making music and I wasn’t really sure that it was going to [work out]. I was living hand-to-mouth. It didn’t look like it had a bright future. So then I decided to go back to school and two months after studying, I got a record contract, and then another one, and then another one, and then Joakim [of Smalltown Supersound] signed me for an album in March. So I decided to take a break again.
How did you start making electronic music?
I always wanted to start making music, but it seems like it needed a lot to happen [in order for it] to get it started. Because all the things of it—I didn’t really understand how it works and I didn’t take the time to try to understand the music, but this friend of mine has this studio setup with Cubase and computers and that was kind of new to me, that you could do it so easily. So I got in the studio and tried all these things out and I’m watching him make music. And then I started spending more and more time there by myself. At the start, I just made edits, in order to learn the tools. So then over a year I made maybe fifteen edits, just learning to use the program and how to make the track swing the way you want to.
You titled the record Staying In. Are you saying that this music is less fit for a club and more fit for, say, a living room?
Well, the tracks, as they are on the album, I don’t play them out much. They’re very compact versions of the dance tracks. So I think it’s very listener friendly compared to the tracks in the original versions. So [there’s] more of a pop structure in the tunes.
So it’s more digestible in headphones or on your stereo?
Actually, I’ve found that it’s very good in your car!
When you’re writing, what are you starting with mostly?
For the tracks on the album, the ideas mainly came to me just as melodies. Mixing in the beats just came along naturally.
I wanna say, in retrospect, when I listen to the tunes—something eventually destroys this, but—when I listen to the music I hear examples from more Romantic music, in structure more than anything. It’s not a conscious choice, I hear it afterwards.
Do you have favorite romantic composers?
Well, there’s always Beethoven.
Putting the album together, did you make the tracks for potential singles or did you know you were making a full, digestible album?
Well, when I was making tracks, I didn’t know that they were going to be on an album. I got signed by Joakim when all the tracks were there, so we just sat down and chose which ones to leave out. And then I started editing them and clipping them down because they were all like ten minutes. That’s not very exciting in your living room!
But a lot of your tracks are really long—is that deliberate? Are you fond of tracks like that?
It’s mainly because I want to introduce a lot of elements. I think if you do that all at once, it’s going to be really hard to breathe. So you make it stretch out more in time.
You normally play just a DJ set but you’ve got some upcoming shows with a full band, right?
Yeah. Actually, I do back to back performances. It’s one with the band, that’s with a full band and a percussionist and bass player and guitarist. And then when it’s me solo, that’s more like just playing through the tracks on the album. That’s the least exciting one. But it’s when you go for the “club edition”. A bit more strict flourishes on the tunes, like a two hour dance set.
So when you’re spinning, it’s predominately your music?
Well yeah, because I started out making music because I wanted special tracks to play. But if you spend like three weeks in the studio with one song, you don’t feel like playing it right away. But it’s fun the first time to see how the crowd reacts. Also I buy new music all the time and I really just want to promote that—what I play—it’s more fun to play that.
How did you approach the remix for Harry’s Gym—it’s almost got two separate tracks separated by a spacey, break with no drum beat?
Well, when I opened up the remix kit. I just felt like starting out with the original, like the original structure, and then wander off to more something like in my world. I just started removing elements from the original and picking stuff out and shifting percussion and guitars and giving it more, I don’t know, trying to make it more calm. In the original, everything is on the first beat [of the measure]. I just wanted to make it more…like a beach track. That’s actually what the name of the remix means, “Seabreeze”. Also, I thought that the vocal really followed the structure really well, and I wanted to have a track that you could use while playing downtempo stuff to shift to playing a more dance friendly tempo, so it’s also a very good [DJ] tool.