Truancy Volume 195: Courtesy

As the electronic music scene in Copenhagen continues to grow, with warehouse parties and DIY spaces popping up all over, Courtesy  can take pride in being a driving force in inspiring likeminded people to start throwing parties in the city. Working as a promoter in the past at the now defunct Dunkel, she regularly interviewed and brought in some of the freshest acts to the city, whilst also getting her name out there as DJ. Establishing herself as a solo artist from last year, after years touring the world and DJing as part of fellow favourites Apeiron Crew, she’s taken the new challenge on with confidence, getting set to embark on a tour of Asia with Daniel Avery as of next week, whilst lining up shows in São Paulo, North American and Australia in the near future. We caught up with Courtesy to discuss her early beginnings as a DJ, her label Ectotherm with Mama Snake, 90s rave and bathhouse sets in Pittsburgh. Her Truancy Volume, featuring an array of fellow DJs from Copenhagen, as well as some forthcoming Ectotherm material, is her most focused to date she tells me over email. It’s fast from the start, building to her ideal spot of 135BPM over the course of an hour, traversing her way through acid stormers from Robert Figus to trance anthems from Oliver Lieb.

Hey Najaaraq, thanks again for doing this mix and answering some questions. Mix is absolutely amazing and was so glad to see you put L.S.G – Hearts in there, one of my fave Oliver Lieb tracks. Just want to start by going way back, and talk about your time getting into DJing. From what I’ve read there were very few DJs your age at the time of starting? Can you tell us a little bit about that time? “I started DJing around 2005/2006. First on my own for a couple of months, then I teamed up with my high school bff Johanne Schwensen who I played with as a duo with for 5 years. I know that I’ve said in other interviews that there weren’t many DJs our age at the time, and maybe I used that to point out some kind of dry period in Copenhagen nightlife, but actually when I think about it again now, how many successful late teen DJs are there? I figure it’s pretty normal that people’s projects take off in their late twenties or early thirties, so it was probably more about us being pretty young than it saying anything about how healthy the scene was back then. There were loads of great DJs in Copenhagen like Djuna Barnes, Kjeld Tolstrup, and people like Kasper Bjørke and Tomas Barfod who still have reputable international careers.”

Did getting into electronic music/techno and DJing come all at once for you then? From reading past interviews you were mainly listening to stuff like The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, and Bob Dylan? How did the expansion begin? “I wish I could tell you some cool tale about me being into Detroit techno as a teen and having impeccable taste and an encyclopedic knowledge of club music history before my DJ career started taking off, but honestly I spent a lot of years playing a lot of bad music, and it’s taken me a long time to find my voice in this game. The reason I started DJing 100% electronic music wasn’t because of some long love affair with dance music but because it was more fun to beatmatch syncopated drums together than fading songs in and out of each other. I gained most of my knowledge on dance music in recent years by interviewing people, a little bit of Simon Reynolds, being surrounded by knowledgeable friends and spending loads and loads of time in record stores listening to a lot of – for the most part – shitty music. “

Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like you’re currently in a fortunate position where you might be living off just DJing at the moment but there was a time where you were balancing journalism, a master’s degree, certain odd jobs and possibly setting up Ectotherm at the time too. There’s a great question from LWE with Gerd Janson where they ask him ‘ What allows you to keep those things in some form of balance that you’re not pulling your hair out’. Looking back how do you think you did that? I actually didn’t finish my master’s degree, so I guess I wasn’t balancing it too well to be honest. I’ve been asked before when you know to go full-time with music, and for me it was when it took up so much energy that I was neglecting everything else, combined with me making just enough money from gigs to get by. So that was when I quit my arts degree. I think it was about reaching a point where I had to choose one thing over another, rather than trying to successfully balance multiple things.”

Do you ever miss the journalism side of your past and if no/yes why? “I mentioned before that a lot of my music knowledge came from interviewing musicians, and that’s something I definitely miss. I think it’s a really exciting way of interacting with someone, and at the time enabled me to talk with artists that I basically wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Today I’m lucky enough to be at a level where the people I dreamt of interviewing are now my friends and colleagues, and one of the perks of being a DJ is the unbelievable amount of exciting and inspiring people I meet on my way, and that’s something I don’t ever want to take for granted.”

Despite only being four releases in do you feel you’ve succeeded in setting out what you had planned when starting your label Ectotherm with Mama Snake?  I’ve found it to be a great example of a relationship based label where you have strong ties with the people you release. Must also be a good feeling now to have Nina Kraviz and Marcel Dettmann currently hitting you up for tracks? Where do you go from here? “I don’t know if you can even say that Mama Snake and I had a plan when we started Ectotherm a year ago, except to release music we both love on vinyl. So with that in mind I would say it’s been a success. It feels great that these artists are supporting the music IBON, Schacke and Rune Bagge are making because it’s meant that all of them are now playing abroad after releasing their debuts with Ectotherm. It’s amazing to have been able to do something that’s made a difference for people we care about, and it’s a lot more rewarding than promoting myself, which is of course an inescapable part of having a solo career. In terms of the future, the plan is to release more music! We are signing a couple of new people from Copenhagen, like this artist Repro – one of the tracks from his upcoming Ectotherm release is in this mix actually. Also we are finally making those damn Ectotherm T-shirts after some chancer was selling bootleg versions on his web store, so keep an eye on our Bandcamp page.”

Speaking of Copenhagen what can you tell us about the crew Fast Forward Productions? From what I understand they’re one on of the many collectives pushing that fast 140 techno sound that’s really helped put Copenhagen on the map at the moment. Why do you think the city has gravitated to this tempo? “Fastforward is run by Nikolaj Jacobsen (aka Sugar, who produced two of the tracks in this mix), Lukas Højlund, and a bunch of volunteers. From what I know they started out doing warehouse parties, and now they also run a booking agency with a group of guys in Copenhagen that play and produce this particular fast sound. I can’t tell you why the guys are making music this tempo, you should ask them about that :)”

Fitting in with the fast 140 techno I’ve noticed a lot of your sets mixing it up with 90s rave and fast trancey techno. What do you like about doing this other than the tempo, and how have you found it going down with crowds? “I really love music with big melodic parts that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes  digging in contemporary techno a bit of a challenge at times, so I’ve been gravitating towards older stuff lately. There was a lot of fun music coming out of the UK, Germany, Holland etc in the 90s – a terrible amount of bad music too – but at least the bad music from that time still gives you a laugh.”

You’ve had some pretty high profile gigs of late, any particular ones that stand out for you from this year? The B2B with Avalon at Sonar seemed pretty special. “I went on my first US tour this fall and basically every gig was really special, though I have to highlight the Detour party at Hot Mass in Pittsburgh. The venue is this little floor in a gay bathhouse with an amazingly open crowd. The reason this party stood out in particular was because of the people there – I think it’s one of the sweetest and most pure scenes I’ve ever interacted with. Almost everyone I talked to on the floor was somehow volunteering at the party, and it really felt like everyone’s mission was to create the best party possible. Though the Detour team seem ambitious regarding their DJing, music production and the label they run, there was this strong vibe that the point was to create something for their own community.”

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us today? “My sets are generally pretty eclectic regarding tempo and sub-genres of music within techno, and with that in mind I think this is my most focused mix to date. It’s an hour of fast music, starting a bit ‘slower’ around 131 bpm and ending up with a trance classic pitched down to 134 bpm, which is currently my sweet spot tempo wise.”

What else have you got planned for the rest of the year and early 2018? “I have a bunch of exciting European and UK gigs scheduled in, and next week I’m going on a Asia tour with Resident Advisor where I will be playing with Daniel Avery in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Otherwise, a few highlights for the rest of the year include our Ectotherm showcase at Corsica Studios, where you can catch IBON, Schacke and Mama Snake, The Warehouse Project with Numbers and a NYE bash at La Cheetah in Glasgow alongside Call Super. The first couple of months of 2018 I’m heading to Australia for the first time, playing in New Zealand for the third time, and my Dekmantel debut at the São Paulo edition. Straight from there I’m really happy to be going on another North American tour.”

Lastly, can you tell us about the last thing that made you burst into laughter or at least brought a big smile to your face? This morning I just came home from Tbilisi in Georgia where I played at this beautiful venue called Mtkvarze located in an decadent old Soviet fish restaurant next to a river. Besides the city being stunning (the hype is definitely real), the vibe from the crowd was pretty special and I received this enormous wave of gratitude for coming there to play, which really made me see how important club spaces are for young people in parts of the world that are affected by this kind of political and economical instability.”  

Tracklist:

Qnete – Stomach (forthcoming 777)
>Meze – P.S. 14 (HomeMadeZucchero)
Renart – Terreur sur la Ville (Cracki)
SBC – I (unreleased)
Roman Flügel – Black Acid (Phonica Records)
Minimal Violence – Crystal Synth (unreleased)
Sugar – Hummer (unreleased)
Red Ant – Seek And Ye Shall Find (Get The Point Mix) (Red Ant Records)
Repro – Gust of Residue (forthcoming Ectotherm)
Sugar – Vascular (unreleased)
Roberto Figus – Acid Path (Epione)
Bielefel Murder Boys – What The Fuck Is Wrong With Storage Company These Days (Heteroerotic Asphyxiation)
IBON – White Flag (forthcoming BunkerBauer)
Bo V – Det Gode (Aalborg.dk.records)
Repro – Nerve Job (forthcoming KEY Vinyl)
L.S.G – Hearts (single version) (Superstition)

Courtesy: Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, Instagram, Resident Advisor

Photo by Kasia Zacharko 

Riccardo Villella
Riccardo Villella

OG at Truants / Graphic Designer / DJ as Melmoth Twitter Soundcloud

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