NOIR talks techno and the life of a global DJ
Having chatted to so many artists and DJs over the years, some interviews just click more than others and electronic dance music stalwart, NOIR, is certainly one of those that resonate.
In many ways, NOIR personifies what the real global electronic music scene is all about beyond the mainstream illusion of private jets and massive stadium size festival performances.
The ‘real deal’ electronic dance music is happening in clubs and at independent festivals like Origin 2020 where NOIR will perform at the end of January just outside of Cape Town.
It’s a set I will certainly not miss and if you’re there I recommend you don’t either.
NOIR will headline the Beats Floor alongside a stellar line-up of international and local talent.
I honestly cannot wait…
I can’t wait to be back and spread some love and positive vibes with underground techno music.”
Three labels + a busy gig schedule + producing; would you say you work harder than the general 9 to 5 man in the street?
Noir: That is a tricky question cause if you count the hours it will definitely be more than the 9 to 5 man but some of those hours are my passion and something that doesn’t feel like working for me.
If making music wasn’t my job it would 100% be my hobby, so it’s sometimes hard to call it “work” for me.
Are the personal sacrifices worth it?
Noir: Missing out on family and friends birthdays, weddings and other celebrations sucks big time, but I feel I have found the balance and time for both touring and keeping up with family and friends.
Fans see the fun side of being a DJ/producer. They seldom see the lonely hotel rooms, extended waiting in airport lounges and the long flights. How do you keep yourself busy or entertained when on travelling?
Noir: I watch a lot of documentaries, tv-series, movies and check a ton of music production tutorials, reviews and news to keep myself occupied. If it’s possible I stream football matches as well.
What’s the best thing about playing all over the world?
Noir: The kick you get out of creating a special vibe (in the clubs, at the festivals) with people on the other side of the planet. The beautiful places all around the globe you get to see as part of your job.
The many different cultures and people you meet every week. It all gives you a better perspective of what’s important in life. You get to learn what life is like outside your own little bubble.
And your least favourite part of the nomadic life of a global DJ?
Noir: Being sleep deprived and the excessive travelling.
Underground will always be the more experimental stuff. The artists that dare to move outside the trends of the sales charts.”
Are the DJ Top 100 list still relevant today and what purpose do you think they serve?
Noir: I honestly do not know who is in the top 100, so I can’t tell you if they are relevant.
I have never really checked those charts – So it’s hard for me to judge if they serve a purpose when I have no idea who’s included and why.
Your labels are quite diverse covering a broad spectrum of music and you have said many times that your musical tastes are broad. Do you think the digital age of streaming has made the masses more aware of sub-genres and smaller imprints and has helped niche music reach more people?
Noir: I don’t think anything compares to when music was only available on vinyl.
Back then the niche music was collectors’ items and limited and for that reason, I feel niche music was more loved and appreciated. You treasured the music much more because you paid a lot for each individual release and got a physical product.
Today niche music definitely has the possibility of reaching more people, but at the same time, it also has to break through all the noise from the other 10,000 tracks released every week fighting for attention.
It has not become “easier” to be heard at all.
But once something explodes or gets popular…… more people will hear it and that includes niche music of course. So if you are lucky you will reach more people today.
For those unaware, explain the core difference between Noir Music, NM2 and Klimaks Records.
Noir: Noir Music = Dark, hard-hitting, industrial techno.
NM2 = Deeper, melodic house and techno.
Klimaks Records = Dub techno, deep house.
Define ‘underground’ in 2020.
Noir: Underground will always be the more experimental stuff.
The artists that dare to move outside the trends of the sales charts. The music that creates tension without sounding like everything else.
For me right now…… It’s the industrial-sounding tracks.
Music with unpredictable synths, sounds, elements and patterns. The music where producers spent hours on making it sound a little more special, raw and gritty.
Distorted, saturated layers. Less polished, clean and predictable like most of the tracks in the top of the charts sounds like today.
The word ‘Noir’ is an intriguing artist name as it is defined as ‘fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.’ Was this you thinking when you decided on the name or did you just like the sound of it?
Noir: Yes…. I grew up with Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, The Cure and Massive Attack. So the name just made sense for me. I wanted something that described dark, melancholic, mystical.
Denmark is not necessarily a country one would think of immediately if you mentioned techno (neither is South Africa), but I suspect there must be a bourgeoning scene there. Tell us a bit about electronic music in your country of birth and how it helped cultivate your love for dance music…
Noir: We might not have the biggest scene for underground music here, but electronic music has always been big in Denmark, so I have always been fed with good music I feel.
We have had several great radio hosts and radio shows that kept the electronic scene including techno and underground alive in Denmark.
And although the scene might be small, the people who are into it are very dedicated and therefore a pleasure to play for. They know their stuff.
We are also close to both Berlin, Amsterdam and London where a lot of electronic music lovers go to see their favourite DJs and artist.
Let’s get technical…
Your ‘humble’ studio as you call it looks amazing. You have some great outdoor gear and I see you’ve embraced modular now too. What is the big appeal with these new modular devices as opposed to the traditional synths?
Noir: The modular stuff is something you build yourself and therefore have control over which components and features you want in your synth.
For me, it’s been important to have sources who can create some randomness, chaos and in some cases modules, I didn’t understand at first and therefore ended up experimenting and creating unexpected stuff.
That said…… I still love classic synths and they also have their place in my studio. Sometimes it’s also nice to know what you are getting when tweaking every knob.
The reason why I love hardware is the relation between man-machine. I love touching and tweaking with my hands while making music rather than using a mouse. So much that I also configure software to work with synth controllers, so it still feels like hardware to me.
Do you ever work ‘in the box,’ just on laptop when you are away for extended periods?
Noir: I tried so many times, so many times. But I can’t. It is so hard for me to get into the right vibe without being in my studio, in my “music environment.”
Something just doesn’t feel right. I do put down ideas from time to time – but never really more than simple stuff I can then work on and extend when I get back home.
How do you balance your time between studio work gigging and label running? Do you keep to a strict schedule whenever you are able to?
Noir: I work every day. When travelling I do a lot of practical stuff. When I am home it’s more focused on being creative in the studio and research for releases on the labels etc.
Many of your productions are 130 bpm and upwards. There’s so much 125-128bpm techno these days which became a trend when ‘minimal techno’ was a thing. Why do you like it faster? (I think it’s great btw).
Noir: I am not sure. But you are right. My next release “Stimulateur” is 6 tracks with bpm from 134-138. I guess it feels more energetic and powerful to me. I don’t have a favourite tempo or anything – I just do what feels right and sounds best to me.
One piece of gear in the studio that has helped defined the NOIR sound over the years?
Noir: My Moogs.
I have 4; bought over the years and they have always been implemented in my music.
Collaborations vs. solo tracks?
Noir: Solo tracks…… I am a control freak.
I want to be hands-on with everything. It’s hard for me to compromise. When I have done collabs with others it’s usually tracks that are “finished” but I am not happy with and have given up on working more on them.
Then decided to give everything to someone else I feel could do a great job or have the kind of sound I was aiming for. In the past (many years ago) I did do some collabs the other way around where I got most of the parts for a track and then worked on it like a remix.
One track you’d love to remix but would probably never get the stems for?
Noir: Anything by Depeche Mode.
An upcoming artist you think we should watch in 2020?
Noir: Nicolas Bougaïeff, Wlderz, Blenk, Ferdinger, Wisna, Asymetrik, Evigt Mörker, Responder + many more.
One thing one will always find in your fridge at home is…
A non-electronic artist/band you’ve been listening to a lot in 2019…
Noir: I went nostalgic in 2019 and listened to a lot of older stuff from David Bowie, Nirvana, The Cure, Velvet Underground + sooooo much more.
The country/town/club or festival that you played at in 2019 that surprised you the most…
Noir: AUM Festival 1,5 hours outside of Auckland, New Zealand.
When I arrived the mainstage was 80s music edits and chilled disco vibes.
My first thought was that I didn’t fit in at all and people wouldn’t be up for techno. It ended up being underground techno and great vibes.
If we say SOUTH AFRICA what is the first thing you think of…
Noir: Exotic vibes. Sweat on the walls intimate parties. Smiling faces. Sun and warmth.
Final words to your fans here in SA…
Noir: I can’t wait to be back and spread some love and positive vibes with underground techno music. It feels special to be in that part of the world, so will always be special for me to be in SA.