A seamless transition across the various stages of a club night. Kasper Bjørke takes us on a widespread journey through beautiful ambient dwellers, compelling disco-infused house grooves and high energy rave material. 

Spread across a two decade timeframe, the music released by Kasper Bjørke defies easy categorisation. From spacious, down tempo atmospherics and pop-infused dance floor material, over to straight up rolling techno, his repertoire graced an impressive list of household labels like Kompakt, hfn music, Compost Records and Hippie Dance, among others. With a fresh double EP release under his belt, we connect with the Copenhagen native to hear the latest on developments.

Traversing scenes, tempos and vibes with flawless mixing and blending, Kasper takes us on a colourful ride through the various stages of a club night as well. Setting off at a mellow-paced 100 bpm, before ramping it up and reaching a steady 128 at the finish line, he manages to seamlessly connect a beautifully compelling myriad of sounds in this 85-minute mix transmission.

Hey Kasper, what’s been happening? How’s life been these last couple months around the whole Covid situation, and what’s been keeping you busy?

Hey… Like most people I have been watching this whole surreal situation unfold in what seems like super slow motion over these past months… However, I have to say that I am enjoying spending so much time with my family… We have two kids and have been in isolation in the family summerhouse by the ocean which makes it easier as the kids can be outside a lot. So, apart from answering emails I have been mainly busy just looking after the kids, cooking, baking (I have learned how to make great sourdough bread and the meanest chocolate cake), listening to music, doing a few remixes and playlists – and the mixtape for you! I havent had much time or creative flow to work on new music yet except for one ambient piece that I am quite excited about…

It’s been a little over a year since you released your deeply personal ambient album ‘The Fifty Eleven Project’ via Kompakt (which we highly recommend everyone to check out!) As a means to document your experience with cancer through instrumental ambient soundscapes, how do you reflect on that period of your life, and the body of work, after recently reaching three years in the clear.

It somehow feels very far away that I went through that experience.. Creating the project helped me a lot in terms of getting past the anxiety and somehow it has also distanced my mind from that period… But, I am currently setting up a website that will host all the visuals that were made for the 11 tracks on the album, directed by Canadian visual artist Justin Tyler Close … hopefully I can share the site with the world very soon – and there will also be a live stream of the visuals in collaboration with Copenhagen Contemporary, an art center that focuses on experimental art. I am still extremely proud of this entire project – and I definitely see it as the most important and personal work in my career so far.

Having followed that ambient path for the last year, you recently graced hfn music with a new double EP release. Titled “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, the (Part A) features your trademark leftfield dance stylistics. How did the record come together? And tell us about the collaborative effort of (Part A).

After finishing the ambient album, I honestly was not sure I would be able to make music with beats again – at least it felt very difficult to connect with it… but around one year later, I suddenly felt inspired and produced the double EP “Nothing Gold Can Stay” over the course of three months last summer – which is very fast for me! I usually spend around one year on producing an album. But I decided early on that I would do two EPs instead of an album. Somehow that felt much more exciting and I decided to have the vocal collaborations suitable for home listening on the first part – and the second part that would be instrumental and mainly for the clubs.

The vocalists on Part A are all friends of mine. On the cover version I did of Seabird (Allessi Brothers, 1976) it worked out great to have two friends of mine singing together, the solo artist Toby Ernest who is a Danish friend living in LA – and Christian d´Or who lives in Copenhagen and is a great DJ and eager vinyl collector, who I play back to back with quite a lot. I also asked my friend and DJ from New York Justin Strauss to recite the title poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” on the closing track of Part A. At that time Justin was working with Marcus Marr and Joe Goddard in Marcus studio in London on their Extra Credit collaboration project, so he was kind enough to record Justins voice for me. So, everything just went very smooth with recording the entire EP and it was actually like a breath of fresh air, after spending such a long time working on The Fifty Eleven Project.

With Part B seeing a more dance floor oriented approach, I know there is a double remix EP in the pipeline as well that features interpretations from Perel, Cooper Saver, Kasper Marrott, Panthera Krause, Marcello Giordani and Tensnake, to name a few. Tell us a bit about your vision behind the selection process for the package. And who surprised you the most with his or her contribution?

Yeah, I am really excited for this massive remix package to come out over the next months – there are remixes of all seven tracks on the double EP! I personally tried to pick and pair the tracks and the producers that I think would make most sense and they all turned out great! I think the remix that really surprised me was the one by Annegret (aka Perel). She did a very cool and almost psychedelic trancey version of Dreamers. Its definitely not for everyone but I think it can be quite a closing track. I also gotta add that I am very impressed with Tensnake’s remix of Seabird which has just been released as the first taste from the double EP – I would never have been able to pull off making that song into a disco anthem, but Marco did it and he did a great job!

Named after Robert Frost’s 1923 poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, tell us about that poem and what it means to you personally?

The poem basically tells in beautiful, few words that nothing will last forever. Being very aware of the climate crisis, I think it can be interpreted from that perspective today as well despite that it was written before it was an issue… The way I see it is that we are only here for a short time and we need to take care of our planet, nature and the animals; so that the future generations are able to live here after we are gone. As the seasons change, we will also die and our children and their children will carry on… It is a constant cyclus that we have to honor and respect.

In a piece you recently wrote for NBHAP you talked about taking certain measures like making yourself financially independent from touring, focussing more on composing film music and management for other artists. Tell us a little about that shift.

After becoming a father five years ago I really wanted to spend as much time at home with the family as possible – and at the same time, I was also becoming more and more aware of the climate crisis and how all this touring and flying around the globe is affecting the climate. It started to make me feel very bad and anxious each time I had to board an airplane…  And I felt that I had to choose between continuing with with my “old life” where I was touring a lot and closing my eyes to the effect it had on our planet – or scale down to both be able to watch my kids grow up and at the same time be able to tell them when they are grown up, that I changed my path in life, for the sake of the climate and to be there more for them in their childhood. So, I gradually started to focus on touring to cities where I could travel by train and I also completely stopped flying overseas around four years ago. I miss New York and it still breaks my heart to say no to gigs in Mexico and South America etc… but after around twenty years on the road traveling all over the place I think its fine to make this change, at least while the kids are still small – and until there is a more sustainable way of flying longhaul.

The decision to tour less had the extra bonus of giving me more free time in the studio so I could branch out and start producing compositions and sound design for moving images. Its something I always wanted to do but never had the energy to pursue. And gradually over the last years it has become a bigger part of my income than touring. That is until Covid-19 hit this year, of course… because just like all gigs are either cancelled or on hold for the time being – so are most film productions. It’s a scary time.

However, I have been doing management for other artists for many years – that is what I spend most of my working hours on… but obviously I am still struggling financially at the moment just like everybody else in the industry. My hope is that the DJ/club scene will come out on the other side of this with some new ideas and inspiration for ways to have a sustainable business for DJs that is not so dependent on touring as it is now. In that sense I guess I am lucky because I had started making that transition for myself already.

Tell us about the mix on display here today. How did you approach it and special records we need to be looking out for?

I wanted to create a mix for Liquid Youth that went from completely ambient to quite uptempo club tracks over the course of approx 90 minutes. Like a super compressed warm up until late night set. I have been doing this series of 7 hour nights at a small club in Copenhagen called Jolene the past few years – and I especially love those first early hours of the night, where you are able to play super slow and weird. So somehow the mix is a bit inspired by that upwards curve that you will get on those long sets… but obvioulsy more compressed in this case.

I start with the beautiful ambient version of my friend Axel Boman’s latest single on Studio Barnhus and then it goes from there… I also included a couple of the remixes from my forthcoming double Remix EP and ending the set with a homage to the late Andrew Weatherall with his brilliant track La Sirena which I used to play all the time back when it came out back in 2006. I met Weatherall briefly a couple of times at club events but I was too shy to say hello… I was always a massive fan. He once picked one of my tracks called Disco Pick and put in on his compilation release called “Masterpieces”. I was so proud… I still am. It is very sad that he is no longer among us… but his music lives on and is a constant inspiration…

How are the coming months shaping up for you?

Besides having the double remix EP of Nothing Gold Can Stay coming out in May and June, I am working on a very long ambient composition at the moment.. Im speaking to a very interesting label about maybe putting that out… time will tell… I also have some collaborations that I want to explore with other artists I have been speaking to recently during this whole lock down period… and then there is the visual side for The Fifty Eleven Project that looks like it will finally be launched online in June – in collaboration with Copenhagen Contemporary and Kompakt. And most importantly I will be taking care of the family and keep working on my baking skills! Perhaps I will become a baker if everything else fails, haha !?!

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Photo credit: Kenneth Møller