We Are All Ghosts
An Interview with Liquido by Filip Lindström
Liquido´s »Nattevandring« makes Profet´s Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström fear for his life, in an enjoyable way. Liquido tells all about his label Pattern Abuse and his part in the Danish electronic revolution, while Profet gets the honour to present the première of his latest track.
I like my electronics somewhat disturbing. Music that makes me look twice over my shoulder excites me in a way that I can’t really explain. It might be the element of actually feeling something that gets me going, because traditionally »happy« tunes usually get me nowhere at all. I guess this says more about my emotional setting than I’d care to admit, but when I listen to electronic music, I’d rather be scared than happy. I wonder why I have this peculiar need to be vaguely frightened mainly during my binges in electronic music, whereas I don’t have the same demands on other genres. For example, at the moment I am head deep in a Boogaloo period that has spanned the last couple of months, where I’ve almost exclusively listened to the ecstatic hybrid of old school R’n’B, mambo and soul. When I’m midst the furthest depths of my Boogaloo obsession, I feel no need to be frightened.
At times when I pull my head out of the Boogaloo pit and attempt focus on something contemporary and different from Americanized latin grooves, I find myself back in my requirement of slight musical anxiety. When I hear Danish producer Liquido’s »Nattevandring«, I feel right at home again: The album makes me experience a, for me, familiar sensation where music creates the illusion of imminent danger. Imagine having a knife caressing your arched back, always able to puncture your lung from behind or swiftly rip your rib cage open in a matter of seconds. You know that it might happen at any given moment, so you’re constantly on edge, awaiting the strike. As happy as I may feel when I bury myself in Boogaloo, I never feel as alive as when an electronic track makes me fear for my life.
»I’ll be doomed to the underground forever«
I call Liquido up for a chat, not mentioning that I see his music as a loveable shiv to my vital organs. Instead of revealing how his tunes make me feel secure in my insecurity, I decide to start off by asking him when he started making this music under his current moniker.
- Actually, I started out as a DJ back in 2002 and got the name DJ Liquid. It was my friend, Copenhagen bass and electronic music legend 2000F, who started calling me Liquido Da Bass (with reference to Azido da Bass). I grew up speaking Spanish, so the name Liquido sort of appealed to me and stuck around. Around 2009, just under ten years ago, I started getting bored with the DJ-ing and started looking more seriously at producing music.
- Do you still DJ, or have you completely left it behind? I continue asking Liquido.
- I still do it a couple of times a year, if I’m doing a label night or a release party for my label. I can put on some cool tunes and make an interesting selection, but in terms of being current and keeping a dance floor banging, to be honest, these days I’m not the one to ask.
The label Liquido mentions as the sole reason for his recent DJ sets is Pattern Abuse, his own creation. Apparently, one of the thoughts behind the label is releasing music that works equally as good for the body as it does for the mind. Liquido’s latest release manages to land right in between the two, without ever letting the fear lose its grip on me. Apart from Liquido’s original versions of his songs, you can hear remixes put together by some of the Denmark’s most interesting names in electronic music. I lead our telephone chat into a discussion on the scene that Liquido is contributing to through Pattern Abuse.
- »Nattevandring« supposedly features some of Copenhagen’s leading producers. Is there a large community involved with electronic music in Copenhagen?
- Yeah, the last years has had a lot of things going in electronic music in Copenhagen, Liquido confirms. There are a lot of great DJs, open air parties, festivals and warehouse parties, and also a lot of competent producers. The past five years have been super interesting in electronic music, on all levels from producing to event promoting.
- And what would you say your part has been in this development? I wonder.
- At the time when I started, there was not much going on in electronic music. Back then it was a very small little community, there was maybe one event in Copenhagen a weekend and in smaller towns maybe once a month. In the evolution during the last 15 years I wouldn’t say I’ve been an essential driver, but I’ve been active all those years, from ten years ago promoting illegal parties to the last five years running the label and releasing music. I have been an active part of the community out of my own interest during the years it has been growing.
- I think illegal parties are interesting, because here in Stockholm they´re not extremely common but in, for example, Gothenburg there’s a larger scene for that, I tell Liquido. Of course, that has its effect on the music and the parties and the scene as a whole. How much would you say that such parties have made their mark on the scene that you´re active in?
- In the beginning, like ten years ago when we were doing those parties, I was living in the city of Aarhus and at the time there was really no electronic music in the clubs at all. It was all mainstream, and mainstream music ten years ago was R’n’B and Hip Hop. There was no way for us to go out and play electronic music to people, so we had to find an abandoned warehouse and have our party. It was the only way for us. We also felt like that sort of location complemented the music much better than some club that had fancy furniture. The music sounds better in a gritty location. In that city, at that time, that kind of activity was essential for the scene to grow and for more people to be exposed to the music, and to be exposed to that music in a way that they understand it.
Liquido behind the turntable
The thought of Liquido’s music being a knife to my back makes me agree with him when he states that it fits best in an abandoned warehouse. What suits a feeling of fright better than a venue like that? No other setting would better amplify the sensation, and thus empower the music.
Liquido points out that along with the gentrification of most societies, there are less abandoned spaces to take over for the kind of parties he once threw. A qualified guess is that this is the case in my home town Stockholm. In my interview with Canadian singer and accordionist Wendy McNeill , who has lived in Stockholm but has now moved to Valencia, we established that this is the way of the world: A cultural movement takes over a space or a part of a town, before it gets recognized and the movement no longer is left in peace to develop. Either the movement dies or adapts to its new environment.
Electronic music has somewhat adapted to a new environment, being that parts of it has been transferred from the underground to the overground, or the mainstream if you care to put it like that. But, if something is sprung out of non-acceptance, how will it react to mainstream acceptance? Liquido and his peers began from the bottom, and their scene grew because of their ability to ignore the fact that they weren’t allowed to play their music in conventional clubs. Now, when the tables have turned, how does a founding member of a flourishing genre adapt to the new success?
- Do you feel more like a part of the underground or the mainstream as of now? I ask Liquido, since his scene no longer retains its initial position.
- I think I’ve always been a part of the underground, and that’s just my personality and my taste, he answers. What appeals to the masses usually doesn’t catch my interest. Anyway, I think I’ll be doomed to the underground forever.
- Even though the music that you make has been more accepted now than when you started out?
- Yes, it has been more accepted, but every time I make something that works with a broader audience with my label and the music I make, I find myself getting interested in something else, moving on to another thing.
»Fuck with the existing, play with it, reassemble it in new ways«
Liquido is, much like me, a restless soul when it comes to music. If he thinks like me regarding mainstream acceptance, he gets bored when he has gone through one genre or expression. I always go through extreme periods, like the Boogaloo phase I’m in right now, and when I’m done I have to mount something new. This gives way to another vice of mine, which I could guess that Liquido shares: A distaste for music that has been spoiled by the masses. My automatic disliking of anything that is appreciated by too many makes me also doomed to the underground for the rest of my days. To be honest, I have no problem with that, and I don’t think that Liquido has either. However, I am excruciatingly bored with writing about my dysfunctional relationship with mainstream culture. I have captured my mainstream loathing in too many of my Profet pieces, and it tires me completely. Therefore, since my personal satisfaction is of utter importance at all given moments, I will forbid myself to write about this distracting appearance that is mainstream (e.g. anything that doesn’t meet my taste) for at least a couple of relaxing weeks.
Before his electronic career, Liquido was a member of Ska Punk band Majambazi, and he also records with his brother in the duo Cirkular, evidently looking to satisfy various musical interests. Right now, he finds himself more interested in ambient music, or more complex electronic tunes sometimes known as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music).
The »Nattevandring« cover
The excellently frightening »Nattevandring« is Pattern Abuse’s sixth release. After our conversation over the phone, Liquido e-mails me a further explanation of the label’s relation to mainstream culture:
- On a micro level of music (and all art), we always have a spectrum between the completely predictable and completely abstract. Especially in electronic music, we work with repetitive music - there's something recognizable. That's the pattern. But at the same time, we need to introduce the chaos, the unexpected, the abstract, because just the pattern is boring. That is the abuse. So, Pattern Abuse means exploring that place between the known, the expected, the conventions - and the totally abstract, unknown, unexpected. This relates a bit to what we were talking about with being mainstream. »Mainstream« is by definition closer to the »pattern« part. It is what people know and expect. But the Pattern Abuse aesthetic is always trying to challenge that and will therefore never be able to be mainstream.
In his e-mail, Liquido also adds another angle on what the words »pattern« and »abuse« can mean when put together.
- We humans are meaning-creating beings and we create meaning by observing patterns and by categorizing what we see and know. These categories constitute our understanding of the world. The role of the artist is to fuck with those categories (patterns) and in doing so, to expose that they are in fact exactly that - just mental constructs and not an expression of reality. Reality can in fact be seen in many other ways if we choose to. So, the role of the artist is that of pattern abuse. Fuck with the existing, play with it, reassemble it in new ways. Create something different and new, and when that different and new thing exists, the world has changed, because now meaning is defined in yet a new way.
A young Liquido
If I’m allowed to philosophize surrounding Pattern Abuse’s manifesto, I’d see the mainstream as an index that we all need to relate to in some way. Whether you choose to distance yourself from it by any means necessary - or decide to follow it due to lacking knowledge of its opposite - the mainstream exists as the undeniable ground zero for all culture and its enthusiasts (I know I swore to stay away from writing about the mainstream, but I just need to make one more point before I completely lay off it). I often define my work with Profet by explaining what it is not, which I’m trying to avoid. Rather than saying that Profet is not like other similar publications (i.e. »mainstream«) I want to be able to describe how the idea of Profet as a magazine is unique in itself. One of my goals as a writer is to reach the point where my work can be judged and pointed out for what it is, instead of what it isn’t. The first step toward that goal is mine to take, because if I can’t explain the true nature of my brain child, I don’t think anyone can.
In addition to this interview with Liquido, I am proud to say that Profet presents the premiere of the track »We are all ghosts whispering to our old bodies (WAAGWOOB)«, a piece that is indeed a bit more complex and ambient than »Nattevandring«. As Liquido states earlier in this article, his interest has wandered onto something different. »WAAGWOOB« doesn’t frighten me in the same way as »Nattevandring« does, nor does it affect me like my Boogaloo frenzies may do at times. The six minutes long track is more metallic and cold, but interesting in its soundscape, and it puts me in an emotional twilight zone right between the »Nattevandring« fright and the Boogaloo bliss, creating a comfortable illusion of roaming the streets of a city I don’t know in the middle of the night. Some of my most interesting moments have occurred on such occasions, hence my welcoming the way »WAAGWOOB« makes me feel. The real question is, dear reader, how does it make you feel?
Cover artwork by Michael Schiøler Tingsgård16 Juni 2018