Hailing from a tiny suburb in Trondheim, Norway, EOD (aka Stian Gjevik) has provided the sixth release on Bjarki and Johnny Chrome Silver’s bbbbbb Records. Those who have have followed Stian’s Soundcloud these past few years have come to appreciate a constant stream of melodic electro and proto-buchla experiments – a stream that’s caught the eyes of more than one label owner on occasion. In 2012, Stian was picked up by none other than Aphex Twin himself for his Rephlex imprint, releasing Volume 1 and Volume 2 over the space of 2013. Fast forward a few years and it’s Bjarki of трип fame that’s stumbled upon his music and reached out over Soundcloud for more. With his Swurlk EP having just dropped on Friday, we caught up with Stian to discuss his formative EOD years, MTV, his music as CN plus signing to Rephlex and bbbbbb.
Hey Stian, thanks for taking time out to do this. Been a big fan of yours for ages so was great to get this in motion (“Phontron (030303 Mix)” is one of my fave tracks ever). Seeing as there’s hardly any interviews with you online, I thought we’d start by going way back with you telling us about your first foray into listening to electronic music; Basically, how did you get access to it, who were some of the people you were listening to? “Hello :) Since I was born back in ’85, the ’90s naturally formed a lot of my perception of the world. I mostly grew up in a pretty tiny suburb in Trondheim, Norway, and had very little knowledge of what was going on outside of that. I thought techno was Tiesto type stuff, and really couldn’t stand any of it as it was the national anthem of shitheads. Of course I had a really warped impression of what electronic music really was, something I learned as I grew older. When I was about 15-16, I saw the video for “Come To Daddy” on MTV and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Around the same time, I started high school on the other side of the city and met some new people that were also into the same stuff, and from there on I quickly got interested in making my own music. I think I started with a cracked version of Fruityloops 3.56!
“Actually, there’s slightly more to this story. When I was about 7, the video for “On” showed on TV here, and I was absolutely obsessed with it. The visuals reminded me of the coastal areas where my parents came from, and the music was really strange and magical to me. I had occasional, vivid memories of it ever since, but I never considered it ‘electronic music’ or anything else. It was only way later that I found out it was done by the same dude as “Come To Daddy”, and it kinda blew my mind at the time. Maybe that was the first spark.”
So when did the EOD alias come into all of this? From what it seems, your EAP series started somewhere in 2005 although it’s kind of hard to pinpoint the exact dates as they’re not up on Discogs as a series – just the compilation you put out in 2011. How many EAP parts did you put out? How exactly were you putting this music out there too? “The name EOD came about pretty early, but I can’t really put a precise date on it. I used to share unfinished tracks with friends over MSN Messenger/IRC back then, a lot of them had a new alias for every snippet I sent over. I think I just decided to stick with EOD because it was convenient and didn’t really mean anything.
“EAP started out as a funny little take on the Analord series when it was first announced, but I ended up getting into it and doing loads of volumes. I think I ended up with about 24-25, but there are tons of outtakes as well. I hosted each volume on my website back then, and posted them on xltronic/WATMM/the µ boards. Some people seemed into it, so I figured it was worth doing for a while. It gave me a bit of extra motivation to do new tunes, trying new techniques with each volume. I also learned a lot about sequencing tracks within a release, something that’s an art unto itself.”
Your Discogs tells me you were making music for a brief period in 2006 under the name Bloody Jumper, but – in a rare occurrence these days – I haven’t been able to find streams at all online. Can you tell me a little bit about this alias and where you were at musically at the time? “Those were some joke tracks I did for a forum, I think all of them were pop music acapellas with new instrumentals. Pretty crap, but kinda funny at the time. I think one of them ended up on a white label, ssshh…”
What sort of studio/setup had you built up by this point? Can you run us through some of your first purchases to where you are at now? From what I understand, a large portion of your earlier music was made without the use of a PC. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding there, because for ages all I used was Fruityloops/FLStudio. I even used FLStudio to control my hardware for years since I couldn’t find a good hardware solution. It’s true that I don’t use a PC anymore, and haven’t for a long time, but it’s not really that relevant to a listener anyway. It’s just that I got fed up of bad latency, PC problems etc. interfering with my music making and had to get rid of it.
“I think the first stuff I bought was a TR-707, SH-101 and a Multitrak. Of those, only the 707 remains and I don’t think I’ve used it for several years now. It was really tough to make anything satisfying on a hardware setup for a long time because I had wildly unrealistic expectations coming from the convenience of a DAW. I used to have tons of automation running, a million pattern changes, as many synths as I wanted, unlimited mixer space etc., so sitting there with a budget TAPCO mixer and like three instruments was frustrating to say the least. After a while, though, something clicked, and I think I matured a lot switching over. I learned a lot about discipline, the economy of composition and making the most out of what you’ve got. On top of that, there’s a certain kind of atmosphere, almost this magical realm that you tap into, when you plug your headphones into a real, analog mixer. I never want to leave that place.
“As for what kind of setup I have, it’s a pretty huge one, but it’s taken me like ten years to build. I sequence most stuff with an RS7000, the rest on any on-board sequencers that might be available to me. I record the main stereo out from my Mackie CR1604 mixer as a live take to whatever recording device I’m using, mostly a Tascam 112mkII for tape and a Tascam DR-40 for digital recording. There’s a lot of analogue synths, some digital rack stuff like the JV1080, TX81Z, TG77, D550 etc., an 808, a 909, the usual suspects. I’ve been using an Akai S5000 sampler heavily these days for my new release, sampling and chopping breaks and other stuff. Sometimes it feels a bit absurd when there are a lot more convenient options around, but I’m having way too much fun with it to be sensible.”
Did you have any musical training or were you teaching yourself as you went? “No musical training whatsoever. I was trying to emulate the fast jungly stuff that AFX and Squarepusher did and failed miserably. It all sounded like kitchenware falling down a set of stairs, just random notes dragged across the sequencer. Took me ages to actually learn anything at all, and I’m still learning.”
Let’s talk about Aphex Twin for a minute as around early 2012 you were picked up and signed to Rephlex, which made some people pretty excitable and happy over on WATMM. (You were quite a popular poster as ‘Noise’ :) ) Can you tell us how that came about exactly? Did you just send over a huge zip of files that got chosen for the Volume 1 release in 2013? “I really don’t know how it started, but one day I was sitting at work when someone from xltronic sent me an e-mail. It was a video of Richard playing one of my tracks in his 2009 Primavera set, and I naturally went a bit mental over that. Soon after, Grant messaged me on Myspace (RIP) about wanting tracks, and from there it went. It took way longer than it should have to get those releases out, but I’m very glad it happened.”
As well as EOD, you’ve put out a large sum of music as CN on WéMè Recordings, Central Processing Unit and more recently SLEEPERS. If and when do you know you’re making tracks as CN as opposed to EOD? Any differences from your end? “CN is, to me, obviously more Detroit influenced stuff. At least it started that way. Nowadays it’s a bit more than that with releases like Nu, but still firmly rooted in more straight-up ‘traditional’ electro/techno, especially Drexciya/UR. Who knows what the future holds, though?”
How much do you DJ generally these days? Is this something you want to be able to pursue fully? What can we expect if we were ever to go see EOD DJ live? “I’ve done a few sets recently and had a lot of fun with them. I took a long break from any of that stuff because I wasn’t really comfortable with it, but it’s totally different these days. I know there’s a demand for hardware/live sets, but the logistics make it a nightmare for me and I could never afford buying the stuff I’d need to make it possible. I’d never enjoy doing a set with stems either, since it’s not really live then anyway and I never record anything in more than two channels, so I prefer computer DJing my own tunes since I have an absolute shitload of ’em! As for what to expect, a wide range of BPMs, suspect mixing, top tunes and a lot of fun.”
So your latest release comes via on Bjarki and Johnny Chrome Silver’s label bbbbbb. With the label still in it’s early stages, I’m keen to know how this came about and what the process in track selection was like. “Bjarki contacted me on Soundcloud out of the blue last year. I had no idea who he was, and he had no idea who I was, so it was a pretty funny start. I realised later that he was a pretty well known name in the techno scene, but I hardly have time to keep tabs on that stuff these days. After I’d listened to his tunes, I knew it was a good idea to go ahead with a release. I sent him a bunch of tracks and we came up with a great tracklist together, almost as if we’d decided on the same tunes separately, it came together really well. The title tune was actually made ’cause Richard D.J. asked me for a longer version of the original, so I tried to recreate it and add some new elements as well. I think it ended up better than I had hoped for, but it took a lot of iterations to make it work.”
What else have you got lined up for the rest of the year that hasn’t been mentioned already? “I’ve finished an album that I’m really proud of. I hope it’ll be out sometime this year with bbbbbb.”
EOD – Swurlk EP is out now on bbbbbb and available for purchase on digital and vinyl here.