Photo: Press (Apeiron Crew/Mama Snake, Solid Blake, Smokey)
It’s been a bleak few years, not only politically speaking. Techno has progressively become a monochrome, black-clad entity, at least it seems like it when you gaze over the queues before a random club near you. If you take a look at Copenhagen however, you’ll not only find a vibrant scene with exciting new artists like Ena Cosovic, CTRLS or SØS Gunver Ryberg, but a small collective for which the rave experience seems to be about nothing else than shared fun. The Apeiron Crew was originally started as a four-piece but has since been reduced to the Scottish-born Solid Blake, Ectotherm co-founder Mama Snake and Simone Øster alias Smokey. The Apeiron Crew’s contribution to our Groove podcast was recorded as an intimate party in a former World War II bunker, which incidentally is the most apt metaphor for what it sounds like. You can catch the three behind the decks at next week’s XXY_ party in Dresden.
The Apeiron Crew was started in 2014 and has since been reduced to three members after Courtesy left for Berlin. Apeiron even translates to “unlimited” or “without borders”. What exactly does that entail, especially in terms of personnel? Would you admit new members, or continue after more left the crew?
Solid Blake: When we chose the name Apeiron, it had less to do with a “friends forever” type of sentiment, and more that we were exploring references to classical cosmology and thought it was pretty charming. We decided on it with a very short deadline and it has since become quite funny to us that it’s often pronounced and spelled incorrectly. But as much as the name has been a bit of a joke in that sense, I believe that right now and in our current formation we’re actually moving further in the direction of its meaning representing us as a crew, both musically and in our personal relationships.
Mama Snake: As we’ve mentioned in interviews before, we never intended to be this b2b2b act when we first began the project, but DJ bookings came in before our planned parties even happened, and we were just kind of thrown into it from there. But it’s especially within the last year that we found ‘our sound’ as a crew. We’ve found it’s a lot more comfortable being 3 people rather than 4 in the booth, and the sets are a lot more coherent this way, so in terms of admitting new members that’s pretty much off the table…
Smokey: …unless Jeff Mills is interested in auditioning, of course.
You bring a lot of different musical backgrounds to the table, ranging from Punk to Hip Hop and Dubstep. What ties you together, musically speaking?
Mama Snake: We met through the electronic music scene in Copenhagen, so it’s within this spectrum we have a common ground – Techno, Electro, House, and everything in between. You will often hear an Italo Disco tune or some EBM within our sets too – Techno in all its forms is definitely our main thing though.
Solid Blake: We’ve been talking recently about how our sound has become a lot clearer in our minds this past year. When I select records to bring to an Apeiron Crew show, it’s not the same selection I’d have in a solo set, and I think for all of us, it’s not a case of just trying to work our own styles and personalities into the bigger picture any more. There are these certain characteristics in tracks that we like to play together that are so obvious to me now as soon as I hear them. Usually if I play something and I can tell that the others are feeling it, then I know the crowd will too, because it fits naturally with what we’re doing as a team, even though I think we can be quite unpredictable from the outside at times.
Smokey: I’d say we sort of unawarely and gradually just adjusted our sound to what the crew’s sound has become. But, as Sara mentioned before, when we started it wasn’t the specific genres that tied us together, but it was the fact that we wanted to throw parties. When we started this, we all just felt like we needed to be a part of something yet to exist, and that we all had this drive to make stuff happen, so it was more about that feeling than any particular type of music that made it work. It was more just a mutual understanding of what’s ace.
Mama Snake has started the label Ectotherm together with Courtesy. How is the label connected with the Apeiron Crew and what can we expect from it in the near or far future?
Mama Snake: I guess since we operate in many different fields ourselves, the label is part of the crew because it’s run by a crew member and reflects part of our common taste in music. In the past year, Emma got heavily into producing her own tracks and Simone went back to school to further her interest in design. Courtesy and I have the label as one of the many things we do together and individually. The Techno and House scene here is very tightly knit, so our crew, the label, and the artists we put out are all closely related. Even though we all have our own take on the music, it’s all deeply rooted in the Copenhagen underground.
Solid Blake: Ectotherm has full support from us, pretty much in the same way another label in our close circle of friends would. We all work on so many projects individually and split into smaller groups that it all just becomes part of the extended family. Plus we’re on the promo list, which is a massive bonus. We’ve been getting a preview of some of the stuff they’ve got coming out soon and it’s going to be excellent.
You DJ b2b2b, which is also supposedly how you have recorded this mix. Is there a system you have for short sets or mixes like this one?
Mama Snake: When we play clubs or festivals we will usually have a chat before the show to decide an order we’ll play in, depending on who has the best opening track and what we’re feeling like on the night. We don’t like to do short sets since it makes no sense for us as 3 people – this also goes for me personally when I play by myself. I really like it when we play all night, or at least for 5 or 6 hours. One of our best gigs this year was at an afterparty where we played all night at a “svartklub” (semi-legal club) in Malmö, Sweden. When you have all night to play, you get to take it to all the nice and weird places because you have the time to build up the set. That’s why it’s such a big challenge to captivate the vibe of our club sets in a 1 hour mix, so this is the compressed version of the full Apeiron Crew experience.
Solid Blake: I’m actually quite fond of short sets when I play alone, because they’re a different kind of challenge, plus lots of the tracks I like to play are about 3 minutes long so I can get through quite a lot in an hour. But that doesn’t work for us when we’re together. Then, when we’re recording, it’s a bit different again. Although it has to be shorter than our favourite sets, it’s good enough to know that we’ve all had a hand in this thing we’re working on, and for us to agree on and have fun with the selections as we go through. With this mix in particular, I think works as an illustration of what you might expect to hear over the course of a night from us, like the abridged version of a 6-hour set, with many emotions.
Smokey: We’ve played a lot of primetime Techno sets and that can be wicked for sure, but I’ve really started to appreciate the sets where we are all warming up a bit and playing the oddball tracks and the not-so-heavy ones. Holding the fire back a bit is great, which seems pretty obvious, but for a long time I’ve been a big fan of just going mental and playing all the fat shit. We’ve been playing these heavyweight sets a lot, so it’s nice to do something different sometimes, even though we’re sort of this self-proclaimed Techno crew. Last weekend, we played in London at a night run by the label and party crew Let’s Go Swimming. We played from midnight until 3, which was kind of an early set for us, but it was really nice to feel ourselves and everyone else warming up during the set.
How for example did you record your mix for our Groove, and how did you pick the tracks?
Solid Blake: Sara brought the audio recorder, I turned up with a couple of six packs of cheap beer, and Simone brought some Bacardi Breezers and a big bag of chips – very important. We had a list of the kind of things we wanted to bring into the mix, then when we arrived we sorted some of them into a loose order we agreed on, and then basically had a little party together. It was a lot of fun.
Mama Snake: We all brought a wide selection of the stuff we are into right now, plus some personal classics and a few of the new bits we’ve received recently from our extended family. There’s also a pretty strong Pop cultural reference in the first track. We recorded the mix underground in a genuine WWII bunker, which is looked after by our good friends who go collectively by the name BunkerBauer. Big thanks to them for letting us use their it so we could get drunk together and record this mix. It’s one of my favorite secret spots in Copenhagen and a place where many legendary mixes have been recorded, and where many legendary afterhour parties have taken place throughout the years, so hopefully we brought a bit of that feeling and those memories into the mix.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the forthcoming weeks and what are your plans with the Apeiron Crew for the near future?
Mama Snake: We’re going to Dresden for the first time next Friday, to play the XXY_ party at TBA. I’ve heard that it’s one of the best parties happening in Germany at the moment, so I’m really excited to go! The most extensive thing we’ve got going on for next year is being on the SHAPE platform. Hopefully this will take us to some interesting festivals and clubs that we might not have gone to otherwise and we’ll get to meet up with some kindred spirits from all around Europe. That’s something about playing abroad more often this past year that I’ve really enjoyed – gaining great allies from all different places. For instance, playing with the Siren crew from London in March this year spawned some amazing friendships, so I’m hoping to do more of that. In terms of Ectotherm, we have a bunch of label nights coming up in different cities in 2017, so my guess is that next year is gonna be busy in all the right ways for all of us.
Solid Blake: I’m very excited for everything coming up. XXY_ will be a great way to round off the year, and then next year we’re already getting very busy with Apeiron Crew stuff as well as lots of personal projects. We’re really lucky to be part of an amazing music agency run by our good friends. We’re very well looked after and are constantly being offered more exciting opportunities and experiences, so more travel and gigs and fun projects with the crew coming up. Our trips together are the highlight of my month usually. I’m also looking forward to having some of my own music released, which is a whole new and exciting challenge that feels pretty powerful.
Stream: Apeiron Crew – Groove Podcast 85
01. Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard – Gortoz A Ran (Barclay)
02. Young Male – Drug Deal Videos (White Material)
03. Vril – Torus VIII (Forum – Giegling)
04. Monolake – MCP 79 (Monolake/Imbalance Computer Music)
05. Versalife – Manipulated Matter (Brokntoys)
06. Anno Stamm – The Kid From Newport (Macro)
07. M//R – Professor (Jack Dept)
08. Kalter Ende & Serf – Room Two (Alexey Volkov Remix) (Analog Section)
09. Sawf – Stispilia (Vanilla)
10. Psykofuk – Psykofuk (Matrix Records)
11. Erdem Tukanan & Alpha Tracks – Shelter (Cheap)
12. Dax J – The Invisible Man (Monnom Black)
13. Ibon – No Cry (Forthcoming Ectotherm)
14. The Mover – Waves of Life (Forbidden Planet)
15. DJ Seinfeld – Flyin Thru Sunrise (Forthcoming Endotherm)