“My earliest memory is laying on a rug listening to (Danish protest singer) Povl Dissing” - Jonas Torstensen
I once signed one of my LPs “To Jonas Torstensen, the young hope of Danish rock” and I stand by that. He is just barely a teenager, but Jonas knows more about rare records and tapes than I could ever be bothered to learn. My theory is that being blind from birth, Jonas just listens closer and deeper than the rest of us. They say the blind have sensitive hearing, and if you’re a music lover, that is a great thing to have. And I am not talking about having perfect pitch either, but also just discovering interesting sounds that are buried in layers of noise. Jonas runs the label Pladeselskabet Pladeselvskab, which is a pun, and it is hard to translate, but directly translated it means “ the record company company of records”. Pladeselvskab releases mostly limited edition cassettes by experimental artists such as the sound collective “Af med hovedet” and solo artists like Marie Eline Hansen. What I like the most about this youngster is the combination of his extreme thirst of knowledge and his obsession with anything that is from his own back yard. Or indeed, people who play in his back yard. The guy literally had a touring band from India play his house when they couldn’t get a gig. And that’s just the kind of person he is. Into it all the way.
Below is a short interview I did with Jonas about his favorite topic: Music.
Jonas, tell me about what is going on music-wise in Odense, where you are from, at the moment? I’m stuck on the devil island of Sjælland these days.
Jonas: Quite a lot actually! For many years Odense had a curse on it, that being, that the youth in town moved to Aarhus or Copenhagen as soon as they could, but it seems like people are starting to return home. It also appears to me that a lot of venues have growing interest in alternative music, even places that aren’t venues in the traditional sense put on shows. Like theatres, art galleries, libraries and such. Odense has been an exceptionally dead town for many years, but people are starting to realise that quite a lot is going on around town. More and more concerts get sold out. And especially a little theater called Teater Momentum have presented many forms of more experimental performances, and now puts on a lot of alternative music too.
Do you remember what the first slab of vinyl you bought was? My first one was Spike Jones’s Double LP Can’t Stop Murdering just because I wanted to know what a record with that name sounded like.
At first I bought a lot of cassettes second hand. One day I discovered I could get the same music on LP, and it would sound better, and be more durable. I think my first record was Sange af Benny Holst, which is very political Danish record from 72, that I found at a record convention. If memory serves me right I had it on tape first, but had worn it out.
And you play music as well as releasing and collecting it on physical media? Are you in a band that you want to promote at the moment? And when are we going to record with Mads Henning and Helle Vedel? The last part was just a crazy idea I got just now.
I also play music, when I am not busy releasing other people’s albums or DJ’ing. So far I have mostly been making solo recordings, and those will probably be released on a tape out and abouts, and for free download online. But there’s all the time in the world to finish that. I don’t really have a band at the moment, but perhaps I’ll do that sometime when the time is right
Exactly how many releases are out on your label now? And does your little sister still do all the artwork?
I released nine albums so far, and there is many more on the way. My sister doesn’t draw a lot of covers anymore. These days there’s a bunch of different people doing that for me, but she still makes the odd cover when she finds the time.
I also heard that beside from getting interviewed by national radiostations, and convincing them to play more alternative stuff you got your own show in Odense now? how’s that going?
Yes, that is correct. “Det vibrerende øre” (The vibrating ear) Is a two-hour program I do every first Saturday Of the month. I just play music I find interesting or good, or even both sometimes.
You’re quite the cassette enthusiast, what attracts you to this medium in 2018?
Jonas: Cassettes are a fantastic medium for many reasons. It’s cheap to produce, which means you can release a lot of very niche audio, which would never find its way onto a vinyl record. I also find it exciting to work with because of the noise and hiss. And as it is getting more and more expensive to make small runs of records, a lot of people are getting their eyes opened for tape, which is definitely fantastic. The more the merrier.
And last but not least, do you have a website / Facebook link you’d like to share with the readers of Electronic Cottage, so they can explore further?
Just a Facebook page!
Also after I interviewed Jonas I dug up a radioshow he was on, on one of the national stations, which can be heard here.
I have watched the Apartment Music videos, which Hal McGee has uploaded to YouTube many times over, to get inspiration. Among others, Penny Grune-Fae is indeed an inspiration to me. A noise/punk transgender girl from Florida, who incorporates field recordings, percussion, drone, and ambience in her work in a very inspiring way. The one thing that slows her down a little is that she’s hard on her self...and running out of coffee.. I heard her noise on Facebook livestreams and YouTube videos many times, and thought “I’d release a tape or CD of that in a heartbeat”. Even with the inferior sound quality provided. Yet Penny tries to make sure it is close to perfect, which I highly respect, even if I don’t completely follow the reasoning. I interviewed her one vodka-soaked evening over Facebook Voicechat, and this is what we discussed:
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So, Penny, when did you realise there was an audience for what you do? It took me a long time to discover people , who cared for my acoustic songs in a foreign language, but you even found a local scene! How did you discover these people?
Thank you for the interview and very kind words.
When I was growing up I was always into the weird stuff that most of my classmates were not listening to. My daddy was a school teacher and he was constantly bringing music home that laid a foundation to what I am experimenting with. Also, I did not like pop music. So I was on the hunt to find stuff that had a different depth to it. I wanted to feel it deep down in some primal place.. sometimes I wanted to be bothered by it..haunted.. I am still realizing that. Each show I am blown away that people actually like my stuff. In Florida we have a really decent anti-music scene. I am really blessed to be a part of it. In the next few years I want to travel: tour out and meet as many people as I can all over the world. I am so happy that I have met some amazing souls at The Venture Compound, Nullis Prettii, Hal's apartment, The In-Between. Thank you for booking me and opening the door to start to get to know the audiences more.
Your Last name “Grune-Fae” comes from the Green fairy of Absinthe right? Can you get the really psychoactive Absinthe from Amsterdam over there?
Yes. You can find the Amsterdam kind if you look for it. Or know people..shhh (laughs).. I don’t drink a lot, of alcohol because it takes a lot to get me drunk, I just get full too fast and have to pee way before I am even buzzed. I also slow way down.. I enjoy the taste of some "adult drinks" but I like being in control of my senses.
What is your plan for your noise rig at your next gig? I’ve seen some very cool puppet show ideas on Instagram, that You drew? Are you going to incorporate those?
Not yet on the puppets. I am still playing around with that art-form. But soon.. My next gig coming up is May 10th at the Bunker in Tampa and the 19th in Savannah, Georgia at Greg Hornak’s Venue! The Bunker show is still on the drawing table set wise. There will be sketches. I like drawing my ideas out first. To me it helps me physically see what I am feeling. It also helps me to stay organized on what toys I want to play with. The Savannah show, hmmm, there may be a puppet.
Your noise-work has a percussive quality to it. Did you play drums, or something like that, before you began noising it up?
Yes, I have been playing percussion and playing drums more than 15 years. In the ways of my percussion playing I have always noised it as u say. i love experimenting with ... ooooh what if I did this to this cymbal, this would make a great shaker, if I taped this down and then did.. etc for like ever..
And you signed up for the Stilletid tribute to Jiblit Dupree as well! Thanks, on behalf of Jiblit, as well as myself. When did you first meet Danny/Jiblit?
At Antifest II! He played "Freebird"! And I thought his Stipulation Fest typewriter piece was really funny.. I appreciate humour, and when you put the idea up there I thought that was one thing I could do!
I saw pictures from a recording session with Joe Billingsley. When will we get to hear what you came up with?
I think within month of May.. I have released about 18 un-official CD-Rs to a few people already. Recently, Joe and I finished a split. All that it needs is to be burnt, artwork done and then it is ready. And started on a third recording project based on cut-up poems and anti-music stuff. Joe has been a good friend. We are opposites, so he is pushing me to play more, as in play play.. not play out play. And to press Play and see what happens. In the next month my Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages will be up. I may place some vids on YouTube as well of new stuff.
What would some of your heroes be, music/noise-wise?
Tough question.. I have met so many great people over my life and especially this year in ways of anti-music. I know I am going miss someone and feel really bad.. Please forgive me.. Growing-up Heroes: A few would be Clay Pigeon/ Mondo Eclectica, David Byrne, Mark Applebaum, Delia Derbyshire, Queen, Bowie, Tom Waits, Daphne Oram, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Byrne, Musique concrète, Jordan Curcuruto, Evelyn Glennie, Stewart Copeland, Floyd, Björk and recently Iris Lune. ... and closer to home heroes Verge Bliss, Dylan Houser, Hal Harmon, Hal McGee, Emmy Lou, Vallam Bar'rett, Joe Billingsley, Jen Sandwich, Jennifer Kristen, Brian Mahoney, Micheal Couling, Kate Swan, Casiokat, Dan Reaves, Ironing, Porn Nail$, Curtis Lehr, John D Klimchak and Tim Kaiser.. some non-noisy as u call it.. Abi Eye, Lily, Cuppa Torah, Randy Mang, Copper Penny. I could go on for an hour! I have met so many great people who have been solid, caring, a kick in my tuckus and wicked creative.
Is there anything you’d like to say specifically to non-binary people in the Noise scene? Or even outside of the Noise scene?
Be freakin' you. Be authentic, do not hold back who you are.. I am learning this. Over the last year I have been become more alive, healthy, happy and whole. I have met so many souls who have encouraged me to be me. I feel safer at a Noise show than a normal pub. Some of the promoters and booking people have really tried so hard to keep the spaces safe to play in and be a part of. Don't be passive aggressive, be honest, communicate, be kind. Keep pushing your ideas.. U are more than your gender or non gender. Your life does really matter. Do your art.
I feel like that is a healthy and happy note to end on. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me for my column, milady, and I look forward to hearing your new adventures in sound!
Also, since Interviewed Penny I contributed to a CD she is creating with some of my accordion-playing I do mostly to torture people.
Have a look at Penny's performances at Stipulation Fest and Apartment Music 28 to see exactly what i mean by percussive and ambient !
No one would sign me, because I didn’t fit any business models, and probably couldn’t sell 500 records. But I was no stranger to self-publishing my own music. Yet the idea of running my own label always seemed extremely complicated and expensive. Until I decided to just go for it. Limited editions was all I could afford to do, but I found out I could copyright the music and make a second edition whenever I could afford to. Even if I haven’t made second editions of anything yet, it felt good to know that. It never made sense to me to make 500 copies of anything. I’ve heard from other Label-people, like Martin of Rabalder Records (see my entry on Rabalder Radio and Records) and Matias from Halshugga that it takes extremely long to sell, and they had to look at big piles of the same record for many years. It seemed this was a fate to be avoided, so I decided that my first release would be thirty home-dubbed spoken-word cassettes. But what would I call my label? I was soon to find out.
Anyway, I thought it would be a cool label name, and I could use the pictogram as a logo. My first cassette sold pretty quickly, and I scraped together enough cash to do an LP. Limited to just 50 copies, it took just a few months to sell. Thus there was cash in the Stilletid piggy-bank to do another one. Again just 50 Copies. At this time I had a few returning costumers on Bandcamp, who wanted every record and tape I released, but tapes didn’t seem to be as profitable anymore. Yet I kept making tapes too, because I love them. And that is what you have to reason it with. It is because you love it. It won’t ever be worth it. And in the end what I have learned from the Stilletid-experience, and what I want to advice anyone starting a label to do is this. Release whatever music that you’re the proudest of. The proudest of creating, or if someone else created it, the proudest of releasing. But be sure that you are realistic and don’t end up with 300 vinyl singles sitting under your bed.
What most of us do, there simply isn’t a huge audience for. Most of us have, as Frank Zappa said “no commercial potential”. Which is good. The best music isn’t mass-produced. It’s real, heartfelt, and sometimes even ugly. But when you think about that for a second, the greatest things in life are ugly. Love is ugly. Sex is ugly. Truth is beauty, even if it is ugly. A lot of people don’t want truth in their music. They just want maple syrup poured in their ears. Which is fine. We will do just fine without them.
You can visit Ditlev Buster's Stilletid label at Bandcamp
Today, April 7, 2018, I got Mail from Per-Arne Hognert in Sweden. The parcel included a very nice letter with thanks for having him on the 2018 Friends of Stilletid compilation, and two cassettes he did, under the pseudonyms Odd Sabbath and Oddskabbcatz. I am mostly familiar with the Oddskabbzatz project, so I decided to listen to “Oddest Bits” by Odd Sabbath first, and write my first impressions here.
Side A starts out with “Dolig Låt”, which wouldn't sound out of place in a 90’s MS-DOS computer game. Very different than I had assumed from the cover art, I thought this might have been progressive rock with a silly edge, but I dig it! It is in many ways a rock tune done electronically. "Dolig Låt" is followed by “Morgondagg”. And having been to Sweden often, I can almost see the forests and smell the pine needles and moose-droppings when listening to this. Not quite a dark ambient-piece since it is in no way gloomy or dark but it does bring that genre to mind. Third track “Sepepop” and fourth track “Vilda Bullarn” has a whole nother feel to it. "Sepepop" is almost a circus organ-type track, and "Vilde Bullarn" sounds like electronic spaghetti western music. So far this cassette has been very varied and interesting considering the limitations it sounds like was involved. Sounds a bit like a Sega Mega drive (Genesis to Americans) but unlike game music it has defined endings and doesn't loop forever. Then “Heavy Hever” and “Sumprotsröta” come in and shake things up even further. Almost sounding like Iron Butterfly through a bucket of socks and bit-crushing, which is a sentence I never foresaw I would ever use. But I love it!
“Klockwerk” is a very staccatoed piece with a driving piston-like quality, and with “Arpthin” we are back to a bit of a dark ambient-sound, this time a bit darker and dronier, but wait! Suddenly a very 80’s feel appears with a Juno-sounding lead and turns it into something completely different. I have a feeling Per-Arne was visualizing his way through this cassette somehow. It is all like a very descriptive passage in a book. There are mental images involved. Then the “Towelie Song “comes on with sound-clips of the South Park character Towelie talking about Towels. And Crystal Meth. And Crack. And concluding Side A is "Röka Brännässlör" which has some very confusing and cool pitch changes that almost sound like tempo changes. I don’t know if I can explain it any better than that, but after listening to Side A my expectations are very high for side B. Great work, P-A!
Side B begins with “Östadslivs” which returns to the digital Iron Butterfly-type sound, and I was expecting “Clear Blue Skies” to do that too, for some reason, but I was surprised with a more relaxed track in the vein of Destructure out of Colorado and the ambient works of Laugh And Peace from Japan. Then Follows “Chillarn i Bullarn” with a heavy feverish feel, and “Dream of me” is almost a weird electronic take on a rock ballad. Even bringing Pantera's “Cemetery Gates” to mind. And it is always interesting to hear a certain type of music done in new and strange ways. Track B5 “Vadå?” And B6 “ Gåing Home To Bullarn” Stays in the rock vein but going for that 60’s feel again, ending up sounding like the computerized version of Disraeli Gears by Cream. Which for sure is a new kind of music to me. They need to make a new radio station for “Computerized Cream”. “Det Djupe Blå” which translates to “The Deep Blue” starts out with the sounds of the sea. Waves and seagulls slowly introduce the hypnotic synthguitar-riff and drums, accompanied by a pad-like synth, and Vocoder-like keys a la Kraftwerk's “Spacelab” and even a bit of Glockenspiel echoing out into human voices talking about doing all their shopping at department stores. “Det Djupe Blå” might be my favorite track on this entire cassette. “Boogie i Bullarn” is next,and that one sounds like a hal-bal (hoedown) to me in a way, which is a good thing in Græsted! Wish they played more PA at halbals. The Penultimate track “Ogräsblues” has PA playing the blues harp and mumbling in Swedish in a gravelly voice. I should know what the lyrics are, Danish and Swedish being so similar. Unfortunately I can’t tell, since it's mumbled, but I think it is on purpose. It is the “Towelie song” of side B in its own way. And last but not least “Vadårä” has a dreamy 80’s pop feel to it, concluding the album in style!
All in all this is probably my favourite P-A cassette that I own. And truly also “The oddest bits” of his music, that I have heard.
For more interesting sounds by Per-Arne I recommend his cassette albums 2 day & 2 Morrow, Nightmare Park and On the Subject of Death and that which lies Beyond as Arne Weise; RAHAPAJA the CD-R he did with Hal McGee, the creator of this website, and my fellow Electronic Cottage columnists Jay Peele and Rafael González; and last but not least, Triumph of Death by Oddskabbcatz, which is entirely created with a 90’s Soundblaster sound card and Per-Arne's voice.
Five billion stars out of however many are in the universe!
P-A on Bandcamp
On Rabalder Radio (2007-2012)
Rabalder Radio was a local radio station in Elsinore, Denmark that I could just barely pick up on my FM radio in Græsted with a lot of noise and interference from stronger antennas. The host, Martin Christiansen, who I am glad to call a friend, played what wasn't played a whole lot on the larger stations, and what would probably get you kicked off the air on commercial ones. Martin played punk rock, noise, underground hip hop, sound collages and even a bit of country and heavy metal. He taught me about many a band I never heard of before, as well as encouraging me to dig deeper into demos and bootlegs of bands I knew about. In the five short years he aired his show he had international touring artists like Haunted George and the Spider Babies. As well as local guys, like St Konrad, Paul Butterfly, Kværn and myself visiting the studios and guest DJ’ing. On the episode I was on, I played everything from the tavern-pop/rock music of John Mogensen, the Folk blues of Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie and the nonsensical noise punk of Walls of Genius and he was equally interested to hear all of it. People like Martin Christiansen is what we need. To open our eyes and ears, and to teach us not to discriminate against things for being too noisy, too loud, too soft, too low, too harsh, too fast or too slow. Martin Christiansen is the ideal radio host in my book. You may not like everything he plays, but he will make you sit through it and have interesting facts about it to get you into it. If you still don’t like Captain Beefheart or The Fugs after having him explain it to you, you might never get it.
Martin also had a record label, Rabalder Records. And what was great about Rabalder Records was that you could go see every band on that label at a tiny local punk rock show for 30 kr (about four dollars) and have your mind blown, for a fraction of the price of a Metallica ticket. So I started going to see the Rabalder bands every weekend. Even if locals complained it was too expensive to pay 30 kr just to get in and listen to “some lame band”, I never had trouble finding the cash, and checking out bands with such creative names as Kussekannibalerne (vagina cannibals) Kværn (Hog) or the Idi Amins, who needs no translation. This is how I got into Danish punk rock. I knew about the likes of Bruce Haack and the Bevis Frond at this point, but had never gone to a rock n roll show quite as energetic as that. And I still haven't seen anything quite like these bands on a good night.
RIP Rabalder Radio and Records
Unfortunately there was no online archives of this show, or as Martin would put it “No f***ing podcast”. But if you search for Rabalder Radio on the Internet Archive you might find an episode or two.