The Insider has a particular passion for the dance music coming out of Norway. Here, our favorite four-to-the-floor expert talks to Lakeshouse – a young Oslo-based cross-discipline collective who’ve just cemented their relationship with Paper Recordings by releasing a third E.P., Tusen Takk.
Interview conducted by The Insider.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Where are you guys today and what are you up to?
Thanks for having us! Right now we are at a library in Oslo, recording a promotional tape for the new E.P. that Ben (Davis) will use on his podcast, Paper Radio.
What time of year is it in Oslo in terms of season? How is the view from your window?
There are no windows in this room, but outside it’s raining, and autumn has surely made its presence known in Oslo.
As the main city in Norway how is the health of the music scene in general?
Oslo is the musical hub of Norway in many ways, but there are lots of other towns where the music scene is equally vibrant, each with their own quirks and scenes. As Norwegians we are very fortunate to have many grants, stipends and the like, that help support smaller creators, so you get a lot of different projects that maybe wouldn’t have happened elsewhere. Covid had a huge impact on everything, and a lot of people had to find new jobs, but we’re slowly getting back on our feet.
Is there a lot of opportunity for paid DJ gigs in Oslo?
Yeah, there are a few, but there’s also many DJs competing for the same gigs, so it does help to know the right people if you want more than just a sporadic source of income. We’re honestly not very active on the club scene, and spend way too much time making music rather than playing it for other people, but we want to start getting more into live-sets and DJing and leave the comfort of our bedroom studios.
Is there a demand for overseas DJs in Oslo’s night spots, or is it more for local talent?
I would say it’s a mix of both, depending on what club you’re going to. Both The Villa and Jaeger are really good at booking international acts, and they do get a healthy attendance most of the time. Robert Hood, Baba Stiltz, Honey Dijon and Carl Craig are some of the big acts that have played Oslo in recent years. At our upcoming release-party at Jaeger we’ll be playing upstairs while Âme is downstairs. Hopefully we can compete!
Are there any regular spots that you guys play at?
Not really, but we have had a couple sets at Jaeger, and live shows at The Villa with our other project, b0ka. Our style of DJing is somewhat eclectic, and we typically don’t follow one vibe or style for longer than maybe an hour before going into something different. We’re musical omnivores and love combining dusty disco records, house, techno, pop bootlegs and all manner of music in one set.
There’s been a huge amount of talent coming out of Norway. What’s in the water / snow?
In the water there’s H2O, and in the snow there are skis.
Tromso in particular, gave birth to some very cool artists. It’s a place which is so far from anywhere else. Where do you think their inspiration comes from?
From what we’ve heard there’s a combination of nature, isolation, winter, and the imitation of faraway scenes, as mentioned in the documentary, Northern Disco Lights. We resonate with this as we grew up in a small town on the west coast, and as kids we could only imagine what was going on in bigger cities. We’d grab as many records as we could on holiday, and for the rest of the year we’d delve deeply into them, and interpret everything from afar. This lead to some unique takes and flavors in our own music, and is partly why we have such eclectic tastes.
How long have Lakeshouse been together? Who’s involved, and what do you all do?
Lakeshouse began in 2018, but the majority of us have been friends since kindergarden and early childhood. Before Lakeshouse we’d been involved in a long line of different bands and projects together, including prog jazz and even black metal, but always with a soft spot for club music. We have to mention our other project, b0ka, as a key project that has kept us working together for this long, that maybe spawned some of the aspects of Lakeshouse. With Lakeshouse we wanted to limit the output to strictly club music and explore this further. It consists of Bjørnar Sira, Espen B. Mellem, Morten Smith Lien and Endre Øsleby – and occasionally Andreas Rotevatn on trombone). We all do production and we all write, play and sing, but Bjørnar Sira does most of the visual stuff, and Endre Øsleby does most of the mixing.
It`s mentioned in your press release that you`re visual artists, can you explain more about this ….
We don’t want to limit our expression to just sound, and know from experience how much richer and meaningful music can be when there’s other mediums involved. Who hasn’t been enthralled by the universe Daft Punk created, and felt how much deeper the rabbit hole goes because of it. This is true for all great pop bands. Because of this, we tend to build our own universe alongside with the music we make, through images, videos, conceptual threads and even theatre of sound! Though we understand and value dance-acts that prefer the anonymous approach as a rebellion against the superficial music industry, we can’t resist the urge to be artsy fartsy types, coupled with a lot of humor. Maybe part of the reason for this is growing up with acts like The KLF, Faithless, Primal Scream, The Prodigy, etc., and all their styles, music videos and album covers had a huge impact on us.
Who are the UK artists, and producers that have made an impact on you?
Basement Jaxx, Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers, Andrew Weatherall, Simian Mobile Disco, the list goes on and on. But there’s also Radiohead, Goldfrapp, New Order, and The fucking Beatles! Recently we loved the new Jockstrap-album. The song-writing and production has a lot of similarities to songs we’ve done with b0ka. Speaking of which, there will be a b0ka album out next spring on Beatservice Records. If you ask strictly in terms of dance music then it might be worth mentioning how much we love the whole cosmic dancing-thing, and we really wanna give a shout out to Daniel Donnachie for all of his brilliant mixtapes. Cosmic dancing has been a big inspiration since we were teenagers.
Who are the global musicians and artists that have influenced your sound?
Studio Barnhus from Stockholm is probably our favorite label at the moment. Axel Boman, Pedro Dollar, Kornél Kowács, Bella Boo are all doing great stuff. In terms of influence on production the japanese artist Cornelius and his album Point has meant a lot to us. That record still sounds way beyond everyone else, and manages to pull off some impressive blends of genres. We were really sad when both SOPHIE and Phillipe Zdar both passed away so tragically, and in so similar ways. They have had a massive impact on our music and thinking about their passing still makes me tear up.
You’ve made some pretty leftfield records! What words would you use to define the music that you make?
Playful, bizarre and tactile. Contrasting sounds and emotions.
How did you find your way to release on the UK label Paper Recordings?
We did a track called Brødrene Hermanos for our other project, b0ka, and sent it to Ben who loved it. This is actually part of the reason why we started Lakehouse, as a way to differentiate our clubbier music from the eclectic dance-pop of b0ka. We’d been introduced to Paper through our acquaintance with Mathias Stubø, AKA Proviant Audio, who’d put out music on Paper before. Shortly after Ben replied we started working on Firkanta E.P. and needed a new name, and through our love of Twin Peaks and Norwegian nature the name Lakeshouse came about. It was also due to an old demo Bjørnar did that he’d called “live at Lake’s house”, so in a way there is a mysterious persona called Lake involved.
Your second release on Paper – Folkemusikk – was a cosmic disco bomb. Acid is often present in your tracks. Were you aware of the UK acid house scene over in Norway?
We we were all born in 1989, so we were quite young when the whole rave-thing exploded in the UK, and then later in Norway, but as young music lovers with older brothers we soon caught on. Endre, for instance, bought Dig Your Own Hole on CD when he was just 8, and we spent hours on living room floors playing or drawing to techno records, especially The Prodigy’s Experience, when it first came out. Bjørnar’s brother used to DJ and had a huge collection of CD-singles of dance and pop music. Those releases always had club mixes that were interesting to us as young listeners. We’d wonder who’d made those mixes and how it was done. I guess we didn’t yet realize you could use individual vocal tracks to make new music. We were young and still living in a tiny town when the first influx of raves, MDMA and acid house came to Norway, but through newspapers and TV we were aware that something was happening, and that it seemed to be connected to the electronic music we loved back then.
What records are you aware of from that time?
We have to mention Palace of Pleasure’s album, Popaganda, which was clearly influenced by that scene, as well as tracks from Elektrofant, who we’ve been fortunate to get in touch with, and received a lot of unreleased demos and goodies from over the years. And of course we have to mention Mental Overdrive’s Ad Absurdum. A little later, into the early 2000s, we became huge fans of Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Todd Terje, Mungolian Jetset and the rest of the gang. There’s too many to name them all.
You remixed for the mighty Lindstrom – Didn’t Know Better. Such a cool track. Is that Crazy P’s Daniele Moore on the vocal?
We love those vocals! The singer is Ronika. She has some slick `80s infused tracks out. It would be cool to do a Lakeshouse track with her. Speaking of Lindstrøm, we have two remixes of a jazz orchestra called OJKOS coming out soon, and Lindstrøm is also doing a remix on the same release.
Where is the Lakeshouse studio?
There’s not really one place. It’s been a mix of bedrooms and whatever spaces we can use. But perhaps the most important space has been our cabin. It’s quite a trek so it doesn’t happen a lot, but that’s where we do our best work. As far as gear goes, you’d be surprised. We’re very much DIY and don’t have a lot of gear. My personal favorite is my Casio SA-10 toy keyboard, which you can hear all over the Folkemusikk E.P, especially the track Papaya.
Todd Terje, Lindstrom, Bjorn Torske, Fett Burger. ALL the DJs and producers I know out of Norway seem to be of mega status in Europe. Why do you think are so big overseas?
They’re definitely bigger outside of Norway. Norway is a tiny country and that has its positives and negatives when it comes to underground music scenes. It makes it hard to sustain scenes with only Norwegian audiences, but it makes it easy to collaborate and navigate, which can spark cool trends.
The one song everyone that knows here is of course Inspector Norse, but for the most part the mainstream has no clue that Norway is home to great electronic artists. The underground definitely appreciates them, and know that they are respected outside of Norway too. It`s kinda hard not to when the scene is so tiny.
Are you aware of a young artist called Third Attempt? He’s doing loads of great stuff out of Norway at the moment..
Third Attempt is super talented and he’s also part of Beatservice, who we’re also working with at the moment.
Who do you see as the key labels in Norway right now?
Mhost Likely, Boring Crew Records, Full Pupp, Mutual Intentions, and of course Beatservice. The people behind these labels really live and breathe for the music. Vidar, who runs Beatservice, is a super friendly and passionate individual.
Who do you think is doing great things as an artist, who should we look out for from Norway?
We were really excited to hear the music of Mathias Stubø. We feel he is similar to us in many ways. He’s been quiet for a while now but we’re anticipating more from him. HubbaBubba have done a lot of good stuff, and more recently released a great remix album, Drømmen Drømmerne Drømmer Remixed, with excellent remixes from Norwegian producers like Bjørn Torske and Telephones, among others.
Paper Recordings have been working with artists from Norway for some time now. Have you been fans of the label over the years?
I think we first heard of Paper Recordings when they released Proviant Audio’s – now classic – debut album back in 2010. Ben and everyone over at Paper are so nice. They have the kind of eclectic and open-minded taste we really appreciate. They have lots of great output and their radio shows always introduces us to something exciting.
Does Paper have a presence in the Oslo scene?
Yes mos def. Including us, Oslo has Boblebad, Marius Sommerfeldt, and Rave-enka, all connected to the label.
Ben Davis – Didn’t he go over to film The Northern Disco Lights documentary?
Unfortunately that came out right before our first release on Paper so we were not involved in that. We love the movie though. It really helped legitimize Norwegian electronic music.
Did the film make as much of splash in Norway, as it did outside the country?
Yes a lot of people saw it here as well. It aired on Norway’s national TV-station, NRK.
Can you talk us through the tracks on Tusen Takk little?
We wanted to start the E.P. off with a little pop-sensibility; sensual and sexy! The vocal chops on We Don’t Stop are actually from a pop/RnB-song we did with our other project, b0ka. We wanted to remix it and make it clubbier than the original, building mostly on the vocals and rhodes recorded for the b0ka-version, as well as a sick guitar-lick. This track is very much inspired by heroes such as Romanthony, Todd Edwards, George Michael and The Weekend.
Treat Me Right’s vocals are from a session we did many years ago, stumbled upon on an old hard drive. We have a great deal of old material to sift through and that`s often how new tracks come about, like our b0ka mixtape Sagrada Jukebox, which is entirely old demos made new. Treat Me Right is kinda old-school, with a very `90s-sounding beat and crackling vinyl-samples, in contrast with the opening track’s more modern sound. The lyrics kinda reminded us of Chicago-style diva-vocals, and somehow the bass became kinda french touch-ish, and we liked that combo a lot.
Tusen Takk is more our cosmic disco style – a bit more progressive and experimental, both structurally, melodically, and harmonically, than the other two. It’s a vibey track that mixes some of the Northern style disco/house with a more European and perhaps American style of club music like Hunee or Les Sins (Toro y Moi). Though it’s a bit different from the other two we think it fits nicely into the E.P. as a whole, with the percussive vocals and the bitter-sweet vibes… and the synth-hook seems to marry the whole thing together nicely. That hook would fit right into a set at Wilden Renate in Berlin, for instance.
What else is Lakeshouse working on right now?
We are constantly working on new music and are starting to think about our next release. For a long time we did all the vocals ourselves, but we’re keen to work more with other people, and have just started recording a female vocalist that we’re very happy with. Those tracks could possibly become our next release. We`re also in the process of putting together a live setup and have plans to do a lot more DJing. Things have been kind of slow since You Know What, and the fact that two of the members have been living in different cities than Oslo until recently, but now we’re all back together and everything’s opening back up. As Adam Neely would say, “repetition legitimizes”, so we’d like to again mention upcoming music from b0ka on Beatservice. It’s an album we’ve worked on for many, many years, and now it’s finally finished. We’ll have our hands full now that b0ka and Lakeshouse are both running full steam ahead.
Are there any gig dates that you want to drop here?
We’re doing a release party at Jaeger this Friday – October 7th – DJ-ing and celebrating our new E.P.
If we make our way to Oslo, where should we head for a cold beer and some vibes?
We have always been fond of second-hand record stores or just vintage shops that also carry records – sometimes you can find totally random stuff you would never find elsewhere – other times there are classic albums or singles for a reasonable price. As for cold beer and vibes, we honestly spend too much time in the woods or in the studio to be in the know, but it’s always great to check out what’s happening at Kafé Hærverk.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you?
We could share some movie recommendations! Sick of Myself is a new Norwegian movie that was picked up for the Cannes film festival. It’s super weird, kind of disgusting, original and really funny. Another one we consider to be a classic is “10” starring Bo Derek, Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews. It’s a romcom from 1979 with a great soundtrack by Henry Mancini – the guy who did the Pink Panther theme song. Something about the aesthetics, vibe and story-telling of this film has been a source of inspiration for us creatively.
The title for our new E.P., Tusen Takk, is literally Norwegian for “thousand thanks!” So, tusen takk! Thanks for having us.
Lakeshouse`s Tusen Takk E.P. is out now, on Paper Recordings.