06-04-2012 | 16.43
‘Ah, I see you’ve found yourself the osthyvel’, Petter says, as I wave around a familiar-looking instrument from the kitchen drawer. ‘Now there’s a typical Swedish invention!’ Steven gets up in arms: ‘Swedish invention? You wish!’ Equally upset by this preposterous statement, I back Steven up: ‘Yeah dude, pretty damn sure this here is a Dutch invention. It’s called a kaasschaaf.’
It’s February, 2010. My friend Steven Pieters and I have been invited to play at Kruthuset, an amazing squatplace in the outskirts of Stockholm. We’re staying with Petter, whom we’ve known for quite some years as one of Sweden’s most talented and likeable dj/producers. We’ve been having nothing short of an amazing weekend with his dj-friends Johan Brolund, Anders Åkergren aka. Dandy Digital, Axel Boman and Kornél Kovac. During the night at Kruthuset, all of them have showcased an exquisite taste and profound knowledge of electronic music history. You can clearly sense that Stockholm has been harbouring a thriving house/techno culture for decades, and still is up to this day.
That’s probably the most exciting part of playing or partying abroad: realizing that house is indeed a universal language, and that electronic music counter-culture has become a global movement, transcending national borders. In every corner of the world, you’ll find small communities with the same cultural framework, the same values, ideals and interests. People who keep the spirit of underground dance music alive, by incorporating positive experiences on the dancefloor into their daily lives. People who cherish, play and produce the heartfelt underground dance music that has gelled people of all sizes and colors together since the early disco days.
The next day, Steven and I find ourselves hungover, huddled together on the sofa of Studio Barnhus, situated in the basement of an old orphanage (Swedish: barnhus). Two stories below the gloomy slush of downtown Stockholm in wintertime, we warm ourselves to the amazing tracklist of Petter and Kornél. Axel has already left for the South of Sweden, but his music is speaking to us. So does Kornél’s Baby Steps, which will soon become the first hit on Studio Barnhus. When Petter tells us about the plans to start this label, we can only agree it should be a success. The do it yourself mentality and musical ingenuity of these guys is infectious. Both Steven and I return home inspired.
Two years down the line, Studio Barnhus has many believers. Internationally, it has become a household name in quirky electronic music. Axel is traveling from San Francisco to Kazachstan, steadily becoming an international star – as are Kornél and Petter. Through their releases and showcases, Studio Barnhus has built a worldwide platform of fans and followers – not only emphasizing 21st Century underground dance music’s global outline, but proving that with the right attitude, vision and talent, you can reach out to an audience in all corners of the world.
On Easter Sunday, I will be re-united with my Swedish friends at Trouw, during Les Enfants Terribles. And although we still have our differences – I say melk; they say mjölk – the osthyvel-dispute has brought us closer together. Apparently, this Northern European cheese-grating device was first patented in 1925 by Thor Bjørklund, a carpenter from Lillehammer. So both Holland and Sweden were in fact screwed over by the Norwegians, which gives us a common enemy as well!
Door: Aron Friedman