Boasting strong remixes for Chris Page, Rraph, Advanced Human, ad.lib and Darkcell (among a slew of others) as well as an impressive back catalogue of his own works – Rhine Maiden being one of our absolute favourites, one of Sweden’s top techno exports, Mattias Fridell is quickly becoming a household name within the European techno circuit.
For over a decade he’s released quality techno and other forms of electronic dance music, working along the way with a growing number of respected labels including Affin, ESHU Records, Gynoid Audio, Sonntag Morgen & Labrynth and in 2010 teamed up with techno icon Glenn Wilson to create throbbing music and also launch the label project Tonal Path.
We recently sat down with Fridell for a pretty frank & in-depth chat to discuss everything from the state of Sweden’s techno scene, mindfulness techniques, life outside of techno, troubles growing up and the podcast he recorded for us. Enjoy.
B. Where are you and what are you doing right now? (apart from answering these questions)
I’m sitting at home, taking a small Jägermeister and listening to Gamma Ray. Haha
B. Nice one, that sounds like a bit of fun. Outside of music what was life like growing up in Sweden? What did you enjoy doing as a child & teenager?
I am not sure to be honest. It used to be music and everything related to it nearly full time… Actually in my teens, me and my friends was really into movies, we used to watch tons of them and just hang around. I was not always there though since ploughing through movies was a thing we did at the weekends and I was often away DJ’ing then.
Besides that, playing video games been a huge passion of mine. I am definitely a gamer!
B. What is the techno scene like in Sweden?
We have always had a very bizarre affiliation with Techno as a country. We have so many well-known artists and deejays from here but the scene is somewhat lacking if you consider all the established names. There are tons of good smaller underground parties, everything from banging Tresor feel to experimental and obscure nights. The bigger venues and clubs hold easier and uplifting dance music, think Beatport top 10. Same as everywhere.
I am not fully knowledgeable about the Swedish scene as a whole however, it’s not so often I play in my home country anymore. Europe always been my main priority. It’s a bit more free all around, better attitude among the general crowds and regular club people I must say. Same with the organizations and promoters throwing parties, it’s just on another level. With that being said there are still many good promoters and organizers in Sweden of course. Worth to note is that acts like me and my collages doing and playing this type of style never been that hot in the Swedish techno scene. We are a gloomy and moody people so when people go clubbing they want easy beats and uplifting rhythms, generally speaking of course haha.
B. You had a hard time in school and your profession outside of being a DJ/producer is Sound Engineering but where do you think you would be today without your musical roots?
Yeah school was rough. If I only possessed all the knowledge back then that I have now…haha. Thing is, I was really good at most subjects in school. It was all just so boring and strict, we had messy teachers. I met some of them later and made sure to give them a piece of my mind haha. Me and my friends ending up being pests to the school staff, we were outspoken, sarcastic and ironic to everyone. As the, without knowing it, anarchists of the school we gave the authority hell!
If I would guess what I would be today without the music…hmm, maybe some kind of stand-up comedian, entertainer or similar. Something that have to do with humour. Maybe even a lecturer? Haha. Hard to say. No, the chef profession is too stressed…strike that. I am really into cooking though!
B. If time, money & effort weren’t factors, what event (night or day) would you love to curate? Who would you have play? where would it be? how many people would be there? etc.
Damn I could think of many favourable locations here that could work for this kind of thing! Most of them would cause trouble with the authorities… I would have the biggest Void Acoustics Incubus sound system rig possible, paired with some long time favoured acts of mine playing surprising music. One thing is sure, Jeff Mills would be playing back to back with DJ Rolando haha, also Glenn Wilson should play a best of “all of his labels” set for two hours. Everyone is invited!
B. Sick, that sounds like a killer party! Where (country, club or event) would you like to play that you haven’t yet?
Ah tough question man. Very difficult. I have yet to play at Berghain, that would probably be ace. But I think Dommune in Japan would be on the top of my list actually. I always wanted to visit Japan. But of course there are tons of nice clubs and countries to visit. I hope I get to see a lot more! I managed to play at most clubs and parties I always wanted to play actually, so whatever happens later happens. I am not that much into making future dreams and plans, I did that in the past. And I managed to full fill them all, so now it happens when it happens.
B. I recently visited Dommune, it’s a really cool, small space and it looks nothing like it does on the stream. Musically, what has been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s extremely hard to pick one or two or several things even. Of course releasing my first record was ace! That was absolutely a highlight. The more I think about this the harder it becomes man…Haha. Releasing with nice and respected labels is great for example, also meeting great people that manage to inspire you is another thing. While I have numerous personal favourites among the music I made I still feel I do not wanna get too nostalgic and rank it or something, I always wanna look ahead. Many of my favourite tracks are not and will never be released.
B. Where would you like to see yourself as an artist in the next 2 – 5 years?
Others can decide that. I’ll keep on doing what I love to do, regardless of anything else, unless I get sick or something like that. I hope I am still established and relevant. I never been caring much about others opinions about me or my music to be honest, I make what I want and if others happen to like that and release it and people also dig it then it’s a bonus!
B. I think that’s a good mindset to be in. In previous interviews you have spoken about mindfulness and how it has helped you. Did it take you long to learn? and what tips would you give for people who are looking to starting learning mindfulness techniques?
Yeah, I am a follower of the mindfulness concept. It started when I hit the wall 2011 and a long-time friend to me (who also had hit the wall in the past) showed me some relaxation practices. Some of them was narrated by Swede Ola Schenström who is basically the de facto mindfulness guru in Sweden. It all made sense to me, and it was very easy for me to relate to the idea and concept behind it. It felt very natural. The whole thing is basically based around that we all should live in the “now and focus on what matters now and take control of your thoughts and live a relaxed and focused life. That would also be my main tip: Google mindfulness and buy a CD with introduction instructions to learn how to live in the now, take walks, learn to breath properly. Not as easy as it may seem for many people these days and age of stress and depression all around us…
B. Totally, I practised it myself a couple of years back, I really need to get back into it… As a punter what has been your most memorable moment at a gig?
Hmmm. It’s troublesome to nail a single moment. I like so much about gigs, the people you meet before and after, the crowd, the venue in itself…As someone attending a party I think one of my personal favourite moments must be at the legendary Mankind parties here in Sweden. I think it was one of the true highlights in Swedish party techno culture. Everyone was over here, Surgeon, James Ruskin, Ben Sims, Paul Mac and tons of others.
B. That’s a killer line-up, you guys are so lucky to be close to everything over there, we are so isolated in Australia haha. “Temporal Axis” is a bomb! Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for making the track and what you used to make it? (hardware, software, etc)
Thanks. It’s certainly one of my most loved tunes. Originally, the blueprints of the track were intended as a track for the Modularz label. I had a chat with Adrian (Developer) of the label when I started my Consoless project. He liked the Consoless tracks but told me the current idea of the label was a bit more stabby and harder tracks. So with that in mind I figured I could start something for Modularz. Instead the track went a slightly different route with that synth sequence…which was made on a Korg Monopoly with quite a lot of processing.
I liked where the track was going and decided to keep working on the new direction which felt more Gynoid Audio to me. I made the track pretty quick when it all was flowing. The other tracks for the EP I made the following week and when Simon (from Gynoid) asked me for a new Gynoid EP, I showed him the tracks I made. He liked them so I made some minor polish work to them. I played them a lot during that summer and they got released as the Temporal Axis EP in February 2013.
B. Awesome, a lot of your tracks merge belting basslines with boppy, rolling melodies perfect peak time techno. Is this something that comes naturally to you when writing music or do you make a concerted effort to make your tracks sound like this?
It depends. Normally I have an idea of what I want when I started with a track. I happen to like to produce tracks in the direction you mentioned. However it is always a struggle and takes effort to get where I wanna be with the track. I often discard many ideas along the way. But discarded ideas can come in handy later on, so I always save them and salvage what is possible.
My intention is never to make true peak time bombs but rather tracks that can fit anywhere in a deejay set. As far as I know it works when consulting my deejay colleagues about my tracks hehe. It can be tricky to strain yourself like that. It’s easy to see where a track is going, then add some more distortion on the kick, make some epic breaks and add some devastating ride cymbals to build a havoc wrecking peak time bomb. I never like to overdo thing like that though. It destroys the purpose of a track which should be somewhat easy to place naturally
anywhere in a set.
B. Can you tell us a bit about the podcast that you have coming up for us? Where was it recorded?
Yeah. It was recorded in Tallinn, at club Ulme, during the Processed night. Solid club, it’s got personality, that always appeals to me.
B. Awesome, it’s a solid mix! Thanks for your time Mattias, any last words or shout outs?
Thanks for taking the time to come up with interesting questions and thanks for having me! Oh and do not forget that me and my old time friend Alexander Johansson have a track out on Newrhythmic Records latest 12″. It’s been a long time since we have had a collaboration track like this one released together under our own names.