Nobody listens to the Police
Polisen is a Gothenburg raised producer whose music has been described as a trip consisting of fun, chugging sampling-work accompanied with groovy basslines and stabby pianos. Now when Data Airlines have started to release the extensive archive of unreleased tracks from the producer we decided it was about time to put Polisen against the wall for some questioning.
Since your last release on Data Airlines, you’ve released a solo EP on Study Records and some other material together with Jens Wickelgren, Jens Records label boss, on Bror Records and Trunkfunk. How did this happen?
Study Records contacted me for their first vinyl release, and they also had an idea that our common friend Gustav should do the artwork. It was fun to get to know them, they picked some demos and the result became an entertaining mix of four tracks with a nice sleeve. The releases together with Jens happened after we had recorded some music together. If you’re spending time with Jens a lot of things eventually happens. If I didn’t know him I would guess that he never sleeps. I, on the other hand, fall asleep everywhere. He’s often woken me up when he’s thrown everyone out and cleaned the whole club. Quackpac started with Jens asking me if I could help him control some synthesizers for a live gig he had the same day. We had a quick rehearsal and after that we started to do music together. It works well because we’re both quite restless so we like to work fast and not put too much time into details. As long as it’s loud and a bit twisted its good.
What is more to come?
Right now I’m waiting for some remixes to be released here and there. And I have a project together with my friend Eli (from Hello World), who likes to add drums and guitar solos on our recordings so I think it will turn out great. A lot of distortion.
What about the archive of unreleased material that we’re going to distribute at Data Airlines?
The music that we are about to release on DA are a mix of old and new tracks that I’ve done since the last release. I think it’s quite hard to sit still in front of a synthesizer or a computer for too long. Therefor I have to make music quickly before I get restless and start to do something else. So instead of spending hours producing, I try to make music as often as possible, even if it’s just for a few minutes. And now suddenly I have quite a lot of tracks. The first one, Ambit, has a cover made by Mira, who does amazing illustrations. The second one, No Connection, is a track dedicated to one of my dads who passed away the same day I made it. He gave me my first 3310 when I was a teenager.
Do you think there are other elements to your creative process that makes it easy to start but hard to wrap up tunes?
Yes, unfortunately I have to work from time to time. Basically it’s just a matter of time. I have to get money to the rent. And I can’t sit with my headphones all day, I want to spend time with the people around me, they are way more fun and important than my music.
Can this be one of the reasons why you make dance music?
The reason I make dance music, or electronic music, is that I love clubbing. I love everything about it. I love the way music can put you in a festive mood, like a crazy decoration to a party or eating dinner and listen to Barry White. I love glitz and glamour and to have a night to look forward to. To just disappear in a dark tunnel of bass and smoke. Sadly it doesn’t happens as often as I wish right now. Well, to listen to music in my headphones gives me the same feeling, but not the same rush. Another thing I like about making electronic music is that I don’t have to adapt myself to any format. A loop can end up in a whole song or I can mix ten different recordings into one single tune. I never know how the result will turn out. Sometimes I start to do a disco song and suddenly it has turned into a flipped acid tune. Every time I make music I get surprised. I’m still learning the craft, and it’s such fun I just want to play around here for a while. I want to pay homage to the origins of dance music and club culture. To celebrate diversity and equality. It’s about going back, study and learn your history. I see my role as a musician more like a participant on a dance floor, than in the spotlight on a stage.
What do you think of your music when its done? And what do you think of the music you did some years ago?
Some I still like, some I would be happy to delete. But I try to see them as part of the process. Quite a lot of my early material, even my first demos, is still on Soundcloud. Even if I don’t like it all, I like the idea that you can follow it from the start. I rather try and fail than keep it safe. Actually it can be quite fun to fail. At least something happens. Fails has always had a bigger impact on me than straight success. Successfulness can be quite boring.
We have had complaints about it being difficult to get demos accepted by Data Airlines, how did you go about that?
Haha, this is strictly nepotism. You can’t say no, because then the Christmas would be ruined.
Do you think that Gothenburg dance music has a distinct sound compared to the rest of Sweden?
I don’t think I can say anything in general about dance music in Göteborg, because it’s such a wide range. And I have a hard time too keep track of everything happening here, especially since I moved to Stockholm. Also Sweden is quite small and many active musicians moves between Stockholm, Malmö, Göteborg or abroad to Berlin. Maybe this wide range of genres is what characterizes Gothenburg. It seems like people here want to party like there’s no tomorrow, so there are illegal clubs every weekend with everything from disco, electro, drum’n’bass, old school house and techno. I like the rave scene, I like that things is happening, even if I don’t have time to go to everything. I mostly follow my friends. But I can recommend everyone to listen to the weekly radio show Gbg Wax Trax, that must be the best way to get a picture of Gothenburg dance music right now.
What does your studio look like?
I don’t have room for a studio right now. Plus my sound card is broken so I can only record one channel in mono. I have some clones of old synthesisers thou, like a 303 copy and a mini ms-20. And a nice Yamaha PSR-225 plus a Juno and a Akai sampler. Once I sold my Juno-1 to Pontus Sjöblom because I was broke, a month later I moved into his livingroom for a while and the following night out I met an old man on the tram who for some reason (I have very vague memories from this evening) offered me a Juno-2, for free. So we went to his studio at 4 in the morning and after listening to some strange music for a couple of hours I carried the synth home to Pontus apartment. The only thing I had to promise was that I would never sell it. Apart from that almost every sound I use except samples from the library (the public library in Gothenburg has a huge amount of CD’s), are recorded from some of my friends synthesizers. So right now I mostly use my computer, and now and then I go to the library to find new samples.
OK sorry, let me rephrase, what would you like your studio to look like?
The only rule I have with the Polisen project is to never use any software synths, every sound has to be recorded, even if it is from a digital synthesizer or a sample. I think I came up with that rule from start because I wanted a more acoustic sound. I don’t want the production to be perfect, I want it to be a bit out. Therefor I dream about a huge studio with lots of synthesizers and instruments (drums, bass, guitars, saxophones, everything!) where I could record disco from scratch. I want all instruments to be on a stage, with a blinking dance floor beneath. And I would like my friend Gigi to decorate the whole place with glitter and unicorns.
Do you have any upcoming gigs?
No. I try to avoid it. I get too nervous. One time when I was going to play a live set at Nefertiti, Jens’ father had to come and get me with his car. I had a panic attack, sat at home and couldn’t move. I have cancelled almost all gigs I’ve had the opportunity to do. Most of them I have turned down immediately, but some I’ve tried to do, felt like shit for a month, and then cancelled the same day. One time I should have played the same night as Yung Lean at Röda Sten in Gothenburg, but I got so nervous I came up with a lie about technical problems with my equipment. Then I stayed home and watched TV with my sister instead, I felt so embarrased I didn’t dare to go out. Right now I like to DJ at home, I have a very annoying Gemini cdm I practice on. Some day I may DJ outside, but right now I prefer to go and listen when my friends plays. It’s more fun to just dance. The times I’ve played, I’ve been anxious before, during and after the set. But I still like to go out a lot, and I find a good DJ just as satisfying as Absolute Music hits on a computer. I like when the night ends up in a never ending big mess.
Can the covid situation and live streamed DJ sets from your couch become a solution to your stage fright?
Haha, no, I don’t think so. To me, one of the most essential parts of a DJ-ing is the club environment and the dance. But I might share a recorded set sometime in the future. I like listening to radio but I don’t see any point in showing up on a screen. That’s not my thing, other people can do that.
What about the moniker Polisen (swedish translation of the police)?
To me, the police represents almost everything that is wrong in society. I don’t even know where to start. It feels like most of them are are violent racists who follow orders, deport immigrants and shut down everything from disco clubs to anti-fascist demonstrations. Maybe not everyone, but if you’re a police you’re a part of that systematic violence, a tool to defend private property. More cops will never be a solution to anything, they’re a part of the problem. The only thing that is worse than cops are security guards. With that said, the idea of the name came after a trial and some fines for property damage. Sadly, there are so much macho violence in the graffiti culture, so I wanted to take a break from it all and just go out and dance to disco music instead. I thought that Polisen would be a fun name to see on a poster for an illegal rave, because the police is synonymous to trouble, and eventually that the party is over. I also thought it would be nice with all the free advertising, now I got cars all over the city with my name on them. So after that I just had to start learn how to DJ and produce music. Right now, I think I’m half way there. If I should describe my music for someone who doesn’t know about it, I would say that, at the moment Polisen is a project that aims to make dance music for headphones.
Do you have any other projects except from Polisen?
Yes. Polisen is only one of many projects. I do everything from painting, graphics, film, photo and textile prints. I can’t do only one thing, it gets boring. I have to switch focus. It helps me get new ideas and keep things interesting. I prefer to do things under different names, in order to keep them separated. It’s like a whole team of these made up personalities, who are working with different projects. They all work in the same place, inside my brain, so they happen to meet all the time, party together and influence each other. Now when I’m thinking about it, it’s like I’m creating this bubble I was in when I studied art. I miss that. To me it’s always been easier to handle many small projects than one huge, then the projects doesn’t eat you up so easily. Polisen is just one of many characters in my head, and Polisen doesn’t have to be flawless because Polisen is in good company